2019 MAAC MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS TO FEATURE WIDE-OPEN TOURNAMENT FIELDS

Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest to be held on Championship Monday, March 11

ALBANY, N.Y. The 2019 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships is expected to feature close-knit competition during five days of post-season action following an unprecedented regular season of evenly matched play within the men’s division and a field of several strong contenders among the women. The competition to crown a pair of tournament champions begins on Thursday, March 7 and culminates on Monday, March 11 at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY.

The tournament will include a variety of activities for basketball fans to supplement the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.

The top-seeded Iona Gaels will seek to extend its string of three straight tournament championships after capturing the regular season championship for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Iona finished one game ahead of Canisius, Quinnipiac, Rider and Siena, who each tied for second in a tightly contested men’s division. The teams will be seeded second to fifth, respectively, based on tiebreakers.

The top seed among the women for the fifth-straight season is Quinnipiac University. The Bobcats finished the MAAC regular season at 18-0, marking the second consecutive year the team has gone undefeated in conference play. Including the post-season, the Bobcats are on a 49-game win streak against MAAC opponents. Rider University will be the No. 2 seed entering the MAAC Women’s Basketball Championship while Marist College finished with another strong season and will enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed.

Individual session passes, flex ticket packages and all-session passes to the 2019 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships are on-sale now and may be purchased at the Times Union Center box office, charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at www.timesunioncenter-albany.com.

“This year’s MAAC Tournament is as wide open as any I can recall in my 30 years as commissioner,” said MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “Numerous teams are capable of winning a championship trophy as Iona will be looking to four-peat on the men’s side and Quinnipiac will be seeking a three-peat among the women. The MAAC Championships will feature both world-class collegiate athletics as well as a terrific slate of supporting fan activities.”

The Albany Capital Center and Times Union Center will welcome the public with championship caliber activities to celebrate the tournament, which will crown a men’s and women’s conference champion on Monday, March 11. The winners will each gain an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.

“For five years in a row, Albany has welcomed the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, this year marking the 20th time in its history, and I can’t wait to root on our Siena Saints once again,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “These games, along with the associated events like the MAAC-n-Cheese Fest, bring our community together and support local businesses, which is exactly what I had envisioned when we made historic renovations to our Times Union Center, making it the state-of-the-art facility it is today.”

“The Times Union Center is honored to host the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships for the fifth consecutive year,” said Bob Belber, general manager of the Times Union Center. “We encourage fans and families to join us for what is sure to be an electrifying weekend of events and championship collegiate basketball.”

MAAC to highlight local students with special activities

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will conduct special outreach to local schoolchildren during the 2019 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.

On Thursday, March 7, nearly 1,000 local students will attend a women’s opening round game at the Times Union Center as guests of the MAAC via the Bus Brigade.

The participating schools are beneficiaries of the MAAC Gives Back program, which pairs up local elementary schools with both men’s and women’s MAAC basketball teams for a pen pal program.

The fun will continue on the morning of Saturday, March 9 when local children will be invited to dribble basketballs from Albany City Hall to the entrance of the Times Union Center during the annual Bounce to the Arena.

The first 200 participants will receive a free MAAC basketball and a voucher redeemable for a free ticket to the women’s quarterfinals game on Saturday at noon. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle Street. The Bounce to the Arena commences at 10 a.m.

New Spirit Squad Showcase and MAAC Band Jam to ring in championship weekend

Numerous dance and cheer teams from MAAC colleges and universities will get the community into the competitive spirit with lively performances during a new Spirit Squad Showcase on Friday, March 8 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Washington Avenue Armory.

On Friday afternoon, the Times Union Center will host pep bands from MAAC colleges and universities for the annual Band Jam at noon. The public is invited to enjoy the high-energy performances which will take place inside the Atrium of the Times Union Center.

Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest to celebrate Championship Monday

The official fan fest of the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will take place on Championship Monday, March 11 at the Albany Capital Center. The fourth annual Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will be held from 4 to 8 p.m., following the conclusion of the women’s championship game and prior to tip-off of the men’s championship at 9 p.m.

“Hannaford is excited to once again be a part of this outstanding event to support the MAAC Basketball Championships,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Community Relations Specialist Brian Fabre. “We encourage both basketball and mac-n-cheese fans to join us for a fun afternoon and evening to celebrate the championship tournament.”

Fans can enjoy samples of gourmet mac-n-cheese from local restaurants and craft beer and wine at the Saratoga Eagle Craft Beer Garden.

Sampling tickets for the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest are on-sale now at www.albanyfanfest.com. Advance tickets are $8 and entitle guests to five samples of mac-n-cheese. Tasting tickets will also be available at the door for $10 (cash only). Craft beer and wine tasting tickets will be $5 for three samples and are available exclusively at the event (cash only; must be at least 21 years old with a valid ID). Admission to the event, including all entertainment, is provided free of charge.

Entertainment will include MAAC college pep bands, the NYSCOPBA pipe and drum band, and fan shooting contests for gift cards from Hannaford Supermarkets and Dunkin’. The Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will also feature free family-friendly activities, including face painting, balloon artists and inflatables. ​

The Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest will also feature the championship of the 3-on-3 MAAC Corporate Basketball Challenge, a tournament-style competition for local companies and businesses. The championship game will take place at 6:30 p.m. The tournament is being run and administered by the Capital District YMCA.

Sponsors of the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest include Hannaford Supermarkets, New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA), SEFCU, Saratoga Eagle, Dunkin’, AYCO, Northeastern Fine Jewelry, Hearts on Fire, Pioneer Bank, Albany Capital Center, Total Events, ESPN 104.5 WTMM and NewsChannel 13.

For details about the Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest, visit www.AlbanyFanFest.com.