NCAA March Madness: UConn Huskies vs. Iona Gaels betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 4 vs. 13 matchup in the West region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, the UConn Huskeis face the Iona Gaels with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch UConn vs. Iona
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Albany, New York
Odds for UConn vs. Iona
Spread: UConn -9.5
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
West Region No. 4 Seed UConn Huskies
There was a point earlier in the season in which the Huskies looked like they were clearly the best team in college basketball. Things got a bit rockier for Dan Hurley’s team after a hot start, but this is still one of the most dangerous teams in the country. UConn is very good on both ends of the floor, and the team has two borderline stars it can count on every night: Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. Those two make up one of the best inside-outside combinations in the nation, and the Huskies have a bunch of other guys that know their roles. UConn is one of only four teams with a top-20 rating in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.
West Region No. 13 Seed Iona Gaels
Rick Pitino’s Iona team is dancing once again, but this might be the last time we see him on the sidelines for the Gaels. A lot of big programs seem like they are ready to embrace Pitino as a high-level head coach again, but that’s neither here nor there. Pitino is going to be locked in and have his team ready to go. And the Gaels are a nightmare of a draw for UConn. This might be a mid-major school, but it profiles as a top-75 team in the country — and it does so by being rock-solid on both ends of the floor. That’s not common for a team that comes from a weak conference. Keep an eye on Walter Clayton Jr., Daniss Jenkins and Nelly Junior Joseph in this tournament. All three average at least 15.0 points per game, so this Iona team has weapons.
UConn vs. Iona matchup analysis
How good are the UConn Huskies? As a metrics darling throughout the season, they’ve been highly-regarded by the rankings sites. In fact, Ken Pomeroy has UConn as the fourth-best team in the nation and Bart Torvik has the Huskies fifth. No. 1 seed Kansas is actually the fifth-best team in the West Region per Torvik and KenPom has them fourth behind UCLA, UConn and Gonzaga.
First things first, UConn has to beat Iona to set up what could be an excellent Round of 32 game and a big-time Sweet 16 battle. The MAAC is not a good conference, but Iona was largely dominant, including three double-digit wins in the conference tournament. But, the Gaels have not really been tested. They’ve played three Quadrant II or higher games and lost all three. Their only Quad I game was against a New Mexico team that didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament. To say that UConn is a step up in class is a massive understatement.
And, yet, Iona took some early money on Selection Sunday and is a single-digit dog to the Huskies. The Gaels rank 14th in eFG% defense (45.9%), 50th in 2P% defense (47%) and seventh in 3P% defense (29.2%). Unfortunately, UConn, in a vastly superior conference, is 11th in eFG% defense (45.5%), 25th in 2P% defense (45.8%) and 15th in 3P% defense (30%).
The Huskies are also the superior offensive team, including the highest offensive rebounding percentage in the nation against a Gaels team that ranked 273rd in offensive rebounding percentage against. The burning question is whether UConn can put all of these great stats together long enough to be the elite team that the numbers say they are.
Iona has played one top-200 team since Christmas and that was Quinnipiac, who got blown out by Marist in the MAAC Tournament and lost six of nine games to end the season. Those looking for trendy dogs may want to look elsewhere.
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