(14) IONA vs. (14) BRIGHAM YOUNG
Iona 25-7, 15-3 MAAC (Regular-Season Conference Champions; At large)
BYU 25-8, 12-4 WCC (At large)
Time: 9 p.m., Tuesday
Location: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio
Line: BYU -2 (O/U TBA)
Players to Watch
Iona: G Scott Machado, 6-1 Sr. (13.6 ppg, 9.9 apg, 5 rpg); F Michael Gover, 6-7 Sr. (18.5 ppg, 9 rpg, 64.4% FG); G Lamont “Momo” Jones, 6-0 Jr. (16 ppg, 3 apg, 1.2 spg). Jones starred for Arizona on last year’s Arizona Elite 8 team. Jones adapted well to returning to the East Coast, scoring in double-figures in 29 of the Gaels’ 32 games, including a 43-point performance in a 105-86 win over Canisius.
BYU: F Noah Hartsock, 6-8 Sr. (16.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 56.5% FG); F Brandon Davies, 6-9 Jr. (15 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 51.6% FG); G Matt Carlino, 6-2 Fr. (12.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.1 rpg). Davies, who had seven double-doubles this season, will be looking to redeem himself after being suspended from last year’s Cougar Sweet 16 team.
Why They're Dangerous
Iona: Iona can score as well as any team in the country. The Gaels led the nation in points per game (83.2) and were second in field goal percentage (50.4). Behind Machado, who was second in the nation in assists, the Gaels led the country with 19.3 assists per contest and they were third in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.56-to-1. Iona gets a lot of steals and forces a lot of turnovers.
BYU: The Cougars are tough in the middle with Hartsock and Davies, out-rebounding opponents by over four per game. That could be a big factor against a less-physical Iona squad. BYU also won’t mind the Gaels’ fast-pace after averaging 78.2 points per game and ranking 12th in the nation in offensive possessions per game. BYU also protects the basketball, which will be important against the Gaels’ pressure defense. The BYU defense allowed just 41 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from the 3-point line this season.
Why They're Vulnerable
Iona: Defense is a serious issue. The Gaels gave up 45 percent from the floor and 35.4 from the 3-point line. They are an average rebounding team and they have almost no defensive presence in the lane.
BYU: The Cougars aren’t very athletic and not nearly as quick as the Gaels. They have also struggled to shoot from deep. They prefer to shoot from inside and mid-range, which is fine unless they get behind early. The Cougars don’t get to the foul line much.
The Bottom Line: Another one that could go either way. Expect Iona to push the pace and be successful doing so. That will be the difference.
The Pick: Iona 93, BYU 88
(Winner would face Marquette, #3 in the West)
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-148-6