The next round of auto-bids for the NCAA tournament were handed out on Monday evening. While most looked familiar, or expected, it was the drama that took place in the MAAC title game that defined the evening.
It had become clear through the conference season that Iona and Monmouth were the two best teams in the conference. Not only did they have an ability to lock down on defense when needed, but the offensive firepower that each team possessed was easily the most impressive in the conference. But a late season showdown between the two teams at Monmouth showed that Iona, as the flagship school in the conference during recent years, was not scared at all. The Gaels went out and took care of business on the road, scrubbing the Hawks for much of the night. While Monday night’s championship game was much more competitive, the Gaels once again proved that they were the superior team.
With Iona earning the conference’s auto-bid, we’re now looking forward to Selection Sunday. How will the committee treat the Hawks’ resume? Will nonconference wins that, at the time, looked incredibly impressive still hold up to this weekend? Both UCLA and Georgetown have fallen off as the season has gone on. Neither can be looked at as a truly impressive win. But wins over USC and Notre Dame still hold water.
For the sake of all those who love the Cinderella story every March, we hope that Monmouth can still earn an at-large bid into the dance. However, as power five conferences begin their tournaments and upsets will continue to happen, it looks like their resume may, in the end, fall short.
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