Iona vs. Canisius - 3/4/16 MAAC Tournament Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Canisius Golden Griffins (14-18) at Iona Gaels (19-10)
College Basketball: Thursday, March 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm (Times Union Center)
The Line: Iona Gaels -12.5 -- Over/Under: 158.5 See the Latest Odds
TV: ESPN 3
The Canisius Golden Griffins and Iona Gaels will face off at the Times Union Center in the Quarterfinals of the MAAC conference tournament this Friday night.
The 7-seed Canisius Golden Griffins got a huge game from Phil Valenti and survived a triple-OT thriller to defeat the 10-seed Niagara Purple Eagles, 102-97, on Thursday night. Canisius had to come back from a 71-66 margin with just 1:47 left to play to force OT and was able to hit their FT’s late in the 3rd OT to secure the win and advance. Canisius shot 43.3% from the field and 38.5% (10-26) from beyond the arc. The Golden Griffins allowed the Purple Eagles to shoot 51.3% from the field and 42.9% (9-21) from three-point range. Leading the way for Canisius was Phil Valenti who had 33 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and a block. On the season, the Golden Griffins have been led by Malcolm McMillan (14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.1 apg), Kassius Robertson (14.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg), and Phil Valenti (14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.1 apg). Offensively, Canisius is averaging 76.4 ppg on 41.9% shooting from the field and 34.1% shooting from beyond the arc. The Golden Griffins average 8.7 three-pointers per game and have an assist/turnover ratio of 1.26. Defensively, Canisius is allowing their opponents to average 78.0 ppg on 47.5% shooting. The Golden Griffins have a rebound margin of -3.4 and a turnover margin of 2.8.
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The Iona Gaels came into the season with high expectations with A.J. English coming back and although the Gaels got off to a bit of a rough start when English missed a few games with injury, Iona ended the season with a respectable 19-10 overall record and earned the 2-seed in the MAAC tournament with a 16-4 conference record. The Gaels have been playing some of their best basketball as of late as they’ve won five straight games which included a dominating 83-67 victory over the conference leading, Monmouth Hawks. On the season, the Gaels have been led by A.J. English who is averaging 22.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.1 apg, and 1.4 spg. Also chipping in for the Gaels has been Isaiah Williams (12.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.0 apg), Deyshonee Much (13.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.3 spg), and Aaron Rountree (6.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.5 spg). Offensively, Iona is averaging 79.8 ppg on 45.5% shooting from the field and 36.7% shooting from beyond the arc. The Gaels average 9.9 three-pointers per game and have an assist/turnover ratio of 1.29. Defensively, Iona is allowing their opponents to average 74.3 ppg on 42.0% shooting. The Gaels average 7.6 steals per game and have a turnover margin of 1.0.
Iona was able to win both matchups against Canisius this season by an average of 16 points. Canisius is an above average offensive team that ranks 45th in the country in three-pointers made per game however, has been one of the worst defensive teams this year as they rank 302nd in scoring defense and 332nd in defensive FG%. Iona has the best player in the conference in A.J. English and can also put up plenty of points, however, the Gaels recent success has largely been due to their defense that is holding their opponents to 71.6 ppg during their 5-game win streak. Canisius was able to play Iona tough in the regular season finale and although I was initially leaning towards Canisius if they were going to get a large number of points, after the triple-OT game tonight, I think Iona should be able to run the Golden Griffins out of the Times Union Center. The line hasn’t been posted so please check back for updates, but as long as the line is not too big, my initial thoughts are to take Iona to cover.
Update - I still like Iona at the -12.5 half line but as I also think this could be a high scoring game, I'm also liking the over.