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Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Iona Gaels - 12/28/13

Iona Gaels (5-5) at Northern Iowa Panthers (5-6)

College Basketball: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 8:00 pm (McLeod Center)

The Line: Northern Iowa Panthers -3.5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds

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The Iona Gaels pay a visit to Northern Iowa to face the UNI Panthers on Saturday night .

Iona has faced some stiff competition early on this season, losing at Top 25 teams Dayton (by 12) and Kansas (by 20). They did beat up George Mason at their building – a 16-point win. Senior Sean Armand leads the Gaels with 22 ppg, with 3 others averaging between 12 points and 16 points. Beyond that, scoring is hard to find. Other teams average 5 more rebounds per game than them, but perhaps that’s due to the Gaels' efficiency in scoring (47.5 FG %).

Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Iona Gaels - 12/28/13

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

The UNI Panthers are off to a lackluster start and probably expected a winning record at this point. But things are starting to take form. The junior trio of Deon Mitchell, Seth Tuttle, and Nate Buss provide double-digit scoring nearly every game, and they’re looking for production from others. And once they do, the Panthers should be near the top in the Missouri Valley Conference. They are normally a strong outside shooting team, but have hit just 29% from three-ville. They have hung with about every team through the first stanza of games, but have been outplayed in a few of their losses after halftime.

Iona has set up a tough schedule in hopes to prepare them for another run at the MAAC championship, as they won it last season. They need a win to snap their current 3-game slide, but I don’t see it happening here and Ben Jacobsen’s Panthers are tough at home, already knocking off a pair of NCAA tourney teams from last season - Virginia Commonwealth and LaSalle – at home. I like the Panthers in this spot to cover the points.

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Northern Iowa Panthers -3.5

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