The First Four in Dayton will continue on Tuesday night with what has to be one of the most highly anticipated games leading up to the first day of the dance. The BYU Cougars will take on the Iona Gaels.
BYU is one of these teams that just seemed to be destined to be coming here to Dayton for the mass majority of the end of the season. This was always a team that felt like it was just ahead of a weak bubble, and though there really was only one signature win (a victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs), there were no truly terrible losses either. The difference between this year’s team and the ones that have made some interesting runs in the dance over the course of the last few years is that there is no more Jimmer Fredette. That being said, both Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies have the ability to do some big time damage. Both shoot over 50 percent from the field, and the two are averaging 31.7 points and 12.5 boards per game. They are both prone for foul trouble though, and if that becomes a factor, Iona is going to be able to take big time advantage.
Let the controversy continue… Iona was clearly the last team that made it into the field of 68 this year, and it was certainly the one that has a lot of teams griping. The Gaels didn’t beat a team this year of any tremendous note, though there were several games that did make you turn your head and think that this was the type of team that could have gone on a run in the dance. Losing in the semifinals of the Metro Atlantic Tournament looked to be a killer, but in fairness to the Selection Committee, it picked a team that passed the eye test. This definitely has the look of a team that belonged in the field. Scott Machado is one of the best point guards in the nation and is usually picking up double-doubles every single night. Michael Glover is also a double-double man with 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game on average. There are a number of big time sharpshooters that can do a lot of damage as well, and there is no doubt that this is a team that is going to have the ability to force the tempo and make things happen.
The Final Word: We just aren’t all that sure why Iona is the underdog in this one. Not only do we think that the Gaels have the potential to be in the main bracket, but they could upset the Marquette Golden Eagles in the next round as well. Machado and the gang are going to be happy to get their second chance at greatness, and the MAAC reps certainly aren’t going to punt this chance to prove how amazing they can be here in Dayton.
Iona Gaels vs. BYU Cougars Pick: Iona Gaels +2
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.