Despite over 60 college basketball games being on the schedule tonight, there are zero ranked matchups. Instead, we get to turn our attention to one of the wonders of the world, in my opinion, mid-major basketball. One of the mid-major conferences in action tonight will be the MAAC, and one of those matchups features the second-place Niagara Purple Eagles playing host to the Iona Gaels.
In a rematch of an exciting showdown from a few weeks ago, we’ll take a look at why these teams could be playing in another high-scoring game.
Iona may be sitting at 11-10 overall, but they enter tonight as one of the hottest teams in the MAAC. The Gaels have picked up three straight wins, and their 94-93 win over Rider gave them two consecutive games in which they’ve exceeded the 90-point mark. With those offensive performances, the Gaels currently have the second-highest adjusted offensive efficiency in the conference at 109.4.
To win three consecutive games in the middle of conference play, the whole team needs to play a factor in some capacity, but on the offensive end, Iona has been led primarily by Greg Gordon. The NAIA transfer is one of two players on the team currently averaging in double figures. With second-leading scorer Idan Tretout missing the last three games due to injury, Gordon has needed to step up even more.
Gordon accepted his more prominent role with open arms as he is coming off a 28-point game against Rider and a 35-point showing against Fairfield. Mind you, he was able to put up those numbers with only one three-pointer in both games, so it’s clear he has some elite slasher qualities.
When these teams last met, Gordon led the Gaels in scoring, but they would still fall 75-73 despite Idan Tretout being in the lineup that game. Tretout is listed as questionable for tonight’s game. If he can’t play, Gordon will need to work overtime to keep pace with a Niagara offense that is 3rd in the MAAC in adjusted offensive efficiency.
The Purple Eagles are one of the top shooting teams in the conference, ranking 3rd in both two-point and three-point shooting percentages and 2nd in effective field goal percentage. While they haven’t been lighting up the scoreboard over their last few games, the Purple Eagles have still done enough to win five of their last six games.
With a chance to maintain their solid position in the conference standings, Niagara is currently listed as (+3.5) point home underdogs across most New Jersey mobile betting apps. For my play, though, I’ll be targeting the over on the point total, which is set at 146.5. The over is 15-6-1 in Niagara games this season and even cashed the last time these two teams met.
The Purple Eagles may not be lighting it up offensively at the moment, but this matchup with Iona poses a good matchup for them to get back on track. Entering tonight, the Gaels are allowing the second-highest effective field goal percentage and free throw rate in the conference. One of the best ways to get back on track offensively is getting easy points at the free throw line, and Iona allows teams to get to the charity stripe at an alarming rate. In fact, in the previous meeting between these two teams, Niagara got 19 points at the line.
Iona and their faster pace offensive style should also be able to rack up the points as well since they are not only scoring at a high level right now, but they get to play a Purple Eagles defense that ranks 8th or worst in the MAAC in opponent two-point and three-point percentage.
Over 146.5 (-106) on FanDuel
*odds subject to change