The group of schools that will come to downtown Albany offer a variety of feel-good stories. Players who have overcome, or beaten the odds, and gotten the most out of themselves.
Head over to the Times Union Center on March 2-6, and here's a starting 5 you can be proud to cheer on:
Justin Robinson, senior guard, Monmouth The league's best player is a point guard who also happens to be a pretty solid rebounder. That's rare. But then, so is Robinson. Robinson is only 5-foot-8, but hustles baseline to baseline either with the ball, or to get the ball. The Hawks just won a second consecutive MAAC regular-season title with him as the star. He can be flashy while finding the rim, but he's also a 40 percent shooter from the field and 3-point range who gets nearly 5 assists a game to go along with his 19.7 points. And watch him scrape, claw and jump for those 4 rebounds. Oh, and he's a relatively local kid, too - from nearby Kingston.
Brett Bisping, senior forward, Siena
Saints coach Jimmy Patsos is always raving about his leader. And for good reason. Bisping has battled a variety of injuries over the years, including a really damaged big toe last season. He still posted 10 rebounds a game last season, and is at 9.6 this year - that leads the MAAC. He's a "glue guy" that has lowered his average number of shots per game this year but has raised his shooting percentage. He's also virtually doubled his steals numbers - proof that even seniors can learn new tricks.
Jordan Washington, senior forward, Iona
Times Union Center can usually be pretty friendly. But last year it got a little nasty regarding Washington. At a couple of Iona games in the MAAC tournament, fans chanted "Wal Mart" whenever he touched the ball. In September of 2014, the one-time Arizona State commit was caught shoplifting about $20 worth of DVDs. The Sun Devils quickly dropped the Queens native for the relatively cheap transgression. Washington did his penance at a tiny community college in Iowa before landing back close to home at Iona.
There are many MAAC critics who say Iona coach Tim Cluess offers too many second chances. But he's steadfast in his beliefs, and signing Washington has paid off. He can still be too emotional at times on the floor, but the 6-8 forward is a very efficient shooter who has clearly grown up.
Micah Seaborn, sophomore guard, Monmouth The reigning MAAC newcomer of the year isn't healthy right now. His knee is definitely bugging him. But he's a "play through pain" guy who has helped the Hawks to a 16-game winning streak on the way to Albany. He averages 13.5 points but has only reached that number once in the last 8 games. He'll be critical to Monmouth getting an NCAA tournament bid - which it was snubbed on last year after failing to win the MAAC tournament's automatic bid.
Khallid Hart, senior guard, Marist Sometimes you've got to give it up for the really good player on the really struggling team. The Red Foxes are right at the bottom of the MAAC standings heading to the TU Center. They may not stay around long. But catch Hart if you can. He plays with a ton of energy and heart. Sometimes you don't know if he's going for baskets or first downs, as he hauls his 6-2, 210-pound body to the rim. Despite his team's 5-15 record in league games, he was still voted to the MAAC 2nd team - the only player among the top 10 whose team didn't have a winning record in MAAC play.