Pitino, Iona Return to the Dance
Two teams will face the madness once again as the No. 4 seed UConn Huskies clash with the Iona Gaels in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
UConn is dancing for the third year in a row and will be hoping to go further than it has in recent tournaments, as the Huskies were a first-round exit the last two years.
Iona is also returning, making its second appearance at the NCAA Tournament in three years after missing out last year.
The Huskies and 13th-seeded Gaels are both entering the postseason with momentum. Iona won the MAAC Tournament while UConn finished the regular season by winning five straight.
According to college basketball lines, UConn is a 9½-point favorite in the game.
UConn Offense Brings Balance
The balance on the UConn Huskies’ offense is one of their greatest strengths and has helped them win many games.
UConn was third in the Big East in scoring and fourth in both field-goal and 3-point shooting, averaging 78.5 points on 46% shooting and 35.7% 3-point shooting.
In their last five games, the Huskies averaged 79 points on 48.6% shooting and they had at least three players score in double digits in all five games.
Adama Sanogo leads UConn down low, averaging 16.8 points, but he can also kick it out to Jordan Hawkins, Tristen Newton or Alex Karaban, who all shoot over 35% from beyond the arc.
Adama, Hawk and Tristen combining for 43 points. Huskies lead 68-63 with 1:20 to go. pic.twitter.com/1FmfiJVBF9
— UConn Men’s Basketball (@UConnMBB) March 9, 2023
Offensive balance has worked for UConn for the better part of the season and it should help the Huskies advance.
Iona Defense Remains Strong
Although the Iona Gaels’ offense is solid, their defense has been on fire lately.
Iona’s defense didn’t take any prisoners in the conference tournament and that was part of the reason it won the MAAC Tournament.
The Gaels led the MAAC in scoring and field goal percentage allowed, with opponents averaging 65 points on 40.9% shooting. Those numbers were even lower throughout the conference tournament.
Iona didn’t allow any team to reach 60 points in the tournament, with opponents averaging 56 points on 38.6% shooting over three games. In the championship game, only two players reached double digits against the Gaels, as five others combined for 20 points.
The Gaels’’ defensive intensity will be key Friday when they hope to upset a strong offensive team in UConn.
UConn vs Iona Game Injuries
UConn vs Iona Head-to-Head
UConn and Iona have met five times previously, with the Huskies winning four of the five matchups. The last time the two met was December 2019, where UConn won 80-62 at home.
According to NCAA basketball odds, UConn has +550 odds to reach the Final Four while the sportsbook gives Iona +10000 odds to do so.
UConn vs Iona Game Information
- Game: UConn (25-8, 13-7 Big East) vs Iona (27-7, 17-3 Metro Atlantic Athletic)
- Location: MVP Arena, Albany, NY
- Day/Time: Friday, March 17, 4:30 p.m. ET
- UConn vs Iona Live Stream: TBS.com
UConn vs Iona betting lines
UConn vs Iona Picks and Prediction
Friday’s game between UConn and Iona may be closer than the seeding and lines are making it out to be, as both teams are coming in with momentum.
The Gaels are stout defensively, but can also get things done offensively while the Huskies are also strong on both sides of the ball. UConn has the edge in rebounding, however, as it is the fifth-best offensive rebounding team in the nation, pulling down 13.4 offensive boards a game. Iona’s lack of competition will also cause issues, sending the Gaels packing in round one.
The UConn Huskies are listed at -445 in our Vegas lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Huskies, you have a chance to win $22. The Iona Gaels are +343 offering a chance to win $343 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the UConn Huskies an 81.65% chance to win, with the Iona Gaels at 22.57%.