By Jon Rothstein
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THE SKINNY: The Gaels have been building all season for the MAAC Tournament and anything less than three victories and holding up a trophy next Monday night in Springfield will be a monumental disappointment. Iona has three BCS level players in Scott Machado, Momo Jones, and Mike Glover and has dealt with major expectations since last season’s title game loss to St. Peter’s. Anything less than a place in the field of 68 will be a bitter pill for the Gaels to swallow.
2. LONG BEACH STATE
THE SKINNY: The four seniors that comprise the 49ers senior class — Casper Ware, Larry Anderson, Eugene Phelps, and T.J. Robinson know that all the records they’ve broken during their storied four-year careers doesn’t mean anything if they don’t hear their name called on Selection Sunday. Long Beach State has a perfect record in Big West play and has played a vicious non-conference schedule that has included games at Pitt, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina, and San Diego State — but they can’t get into the bracket without winning their conference tournament.
THE SKINNY: Dragons coach Bruiser Flint has led his team to 23 victories in their last 24 games and even though Drexel has shown all the signs of a team capable of earning an at large bid, the diminished level of play from top to bottom in the CAA may make that a difficult possibility. The Dragons aren’t just good enough to make in the NCAA Tournament — they’re good enough to win in the NCAA Tournament. To get there, they’ll have to navigate through the CAA postseason in Richmond, right down the road from number two seed VCU.
4. STONY BROOK
THE SKINNY: Steve Pikiell has done one of the more underrated rebuilding jobs in all of college basketball and the Seawolves just need to accomplish one more thing to round out the process. With three of this team’s top four scorers in their senior year, there is no time like the present for Stony Brook.
5. ORAL ROBERTS
THE SKINNY: Despite a win over a depleted Xavier team in December, the Golden Eagles have little hopes of putting together an at large resume and making the field of 68 unless they win the Summit League Conference Tournament. At 26-5, Oral Roberts has the experience to be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament, mostly because of their outside shooting. The Golden Eagles shoot 36% as a team from behind the 3-point line.
Do you think Iona will stumble in the MAAC tourney or shine? Sound off below…