Downtown Albany Hosting MAAC Tournament
Albany is beginning a busy month of hosting college basketball tournaments with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament under way today in the newly renovated Times Union Center.
It's all MAAC, all weekend in downtown Albany, with numerous events scheduled at the $78.5 million Albany Capital Center, which opened a year ago, and the connected Times Union Center, sporting $19.6 million in renovations and upgrades.
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says it's an exciting time for the region: "We got some great basketball goin' on starting today and ending on March 5th. 11 teams competing for the title."
The Siena men play at 7 tonight against Quinnipiac. The women play their first game of the tournament Saturday at noon.
Pep bands and spirit squads from MAAC colleges and universities were kicking it off with a midday Band Jam in West Capitol Park.
Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. there's the MAAC College Fair at the Capital Center. Jessica Hegmann is the Senior Associate Commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.: "The college fair, it's the admissions counselor with representatives from all of our institutions. It allows local prospecting kids or high school kids still looking at colleges to come down, meet with them, you know kind of get the information and ask questions and our counselors are here to speak with them, so it would be great. We have 11 institutions to choose from."
MCoy adds the third annual MAAC-n-Cheese Fest, also at the Capital Center, runs in the same 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. timeframe... "we got a MAAC and cheese festival goin' on, who has the best mac and cheese? We got a variety of different things going out throughout the weekend so families can come down. There's a basketball one we got goin' from the Palace Theatre to the Times Union: new Atrium, kids are gonna bounce their balls, basketballs down South Pearl Street."
- Registration for Saturdays' Bounce to the Albany Capital Center begins at 10:00 AM at Albany City Hall and concludes 10:30 AM. The Bounce commences at 10:45 AM. The first 200 participants will receive a free MAAC basketball, and the first 500 participants will receive a voucher redeemable for a free ticket to the women’s quarterfinals game on Saturday at Noon.
Hegmann notes men’s and women’s conference champions will be crowned Monday. "The teams that do win for that will go on to the NCAA Tournament for which Selection Sunday is the following weekend. So, by winning the MAAC tournament they get an automatic bid to go into the NCAA. So both our men's and women's brackets right now are pretty open. We do have some contenders maybe a little bit more at the top than others, but at the same time, what makes our conference great is that we can get more competitive. We come to each game differently, so I think, you know, we're providing that competitive basketball. So at the end of the day, we're not quite sure who ultimately will win, but that's what makes it great to watch and entertaining and you know come Monday night it'll be exciting to see who ends at the top."
The MAAC is a dry run for the arena ahead of the high-profile NCAA women’s tournament regional, which comes in March 24 and 26.
Hegmann says the MAAC will be back in Albany next year, but 2020 through 2022 is to be determined. She adds Albany has a great atmosphere and the Times Union Center is a great facility. "The TUC is involved in those conversations along with Nassau County on Long Island, as well as Atlantic City. So right now we're just going through that process and we have to take it amongst our board of presidents and they'll take a look at it and hopefully have a decision later on this year."
- The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is in its 37th year of competition during the 2017-18 academic year. Current Conference members include: Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s University, and Siena College.