- Manhattan (8-3, 1-1 MAAC) takes on Iona (12-3, 4-0 MAAC) Friday, January 14th, at 7:00 pm ET in New Rochelle
- The Jaspers haven’t played since defeating The Citadel 77-74 in Charleston on Dec. 21., while the Gaels sneaked by Fairfield 80-76 on the road Tuesday
- See the current moneyline, point spread, and game total, plus predictions
The Manhattan Jaspers (8-3, 1-1 MAAC) — who were picked to finish seventh in the league preseason poll — will be in action for the first time since before Christmas against the Iona Gaels (12-3, 4-0 MAAC) Friday at Hynes Athletic Center. Tip off is at 7:00 pm ET on ESPNU.
Iona enters the contest as big favorites according to oddsmakers and KenPom predicts the Gaels will win 80-66.
Manhattan vs Iona Odds
|Manhattan||+950||+15 (-110)||O 147 (-110)|
|Iona||-1750||-15 (-110)||U 147 (-110)|
Odds as of January 13th, 2022 at DraftKings.
Steve Masiello’s team is off to its best start since the 2013-14 season thanks to a three-point win over the Bulldogs in late December. Senior guard Ant Nelson finished with a game-high 20 points and was joined in double figures by the team’s leading scorer Jose Perez (18 points), Elijah Buchanan (13), and Samba Diallo (10).
Meantime, Rick Pitino’s club got 20 points and 14 rebounds from Nelly Junior Joseph in a for-point win over the Stags. Tyson Jolly and Elijah Joiner each added 14 points as the Gaels remained perfect in MAAC play.
The Jaspers have had four games postponed since their last time on the floor. Manhattan trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half against The Citadel in late December, but shooting improvements during the second 20 minutes (37.9% vs. 46.2% from the field and 41.7% vs. 57.1% from distance) proved to be the difference against the Bulldogs.
— Manhattan Basketball (@JaspersMBB) December 22, 2021
Now, can Masiello’s charges travel to Westchester County and take down the unequivocal best team in the league? The Jaspers have three players averaging in double-figures, led by Perez at 14.1 points per game. Nelson (11.2 ppg) and Warren Williams (10.2 ppg) join him. The experienced trio — along with four other seniors — form the bulk of scoring for this group that has the second-best offensive free throw/field goal attempt rate in the country.
Considering this senior-dominated roster has been through many battles together should give bettors confidence. The question is how ready will they be to handle the Iona attack that is undefeated in league play thus far?
The Gaels responded from their narrow defeat to Saint Louis over the weekend with a narrow victory against Fairfield Tuesday. Iona ended the contest on a 21-6 run to close out the Stags.
— Iona Athletics (@ICGaels) January 11, 2022
It was the team’s fifth win of the season in come-from-behind fashion when trailing by nine or more points in the contest and second in four MAAC games. Coach Pitino had high praise for his club, saying the Gaels are e as good defensively as any team as he’s ever coached — noting 47 deflected balls against the Billikens — and as bad as any team he’s ever coached until about the seven-minute mark.
This is a borderline elite mid-major that defends the perimeter well (rating 32nd in defensive 3-point field goal percentage) and scoring the ball (the Gaels have scored at least 80 points in over half of their games). Three players — Jolly, Slazinski and Nelly Junior Joseph — average double-digits in points, while Junior Joseph pulls down a team-leading 8.8 rebounds a game.
Manhattan vs Iona Pick
I fully expect Iona to come out of the gate hot against its archrival after a sluggish start against Fairfield and cruise to a victory.
Manhattan may very well end up making some noise in MAAC play and make a little run in the conference tourney. But Iona feels like a borderline at-large bid team (already owning a victory over a top-10 team in Alabama). Look for the Gaels to earn their first comfortable victory — by double-digits — since beating Delaware over three weeks ago and cover the spread.
Pick: Iona -15 (-110)