Tuesday’s NCAA tournament play-in game between the Iona Gaels and the BYU Cougars has the potential to be an entertaining and high scoring affair. Iona leads division 1 basketball with an 83.3 point per game average. They also rank 1st in assists per game, and 2nd in field goal percentage. However, their lack of size and dominance in the paint could make it tough for them to get past a BYU squad that dominates the interior, and has the ability to light up the scoreboard as well. NCAA basketball handicappers have listed the Cougars slight 2 point favorites for this 14 seed match-up. Having the Cougars as favorites shouldn’t be too surprising given the conference they play in and their strength of schedule, but the total of 160 points is one of the highest of the entire college basketball season.
It’s hard for any team to match-up with Iona’s offensive output, but BYU comes extremely close. Tey finished the regular season with a 78.2 point per game average, and were 6th in assists with 17 per game. Playing in a West Coast conference that has 2 other NCAA tournament teams gives the Cougars a leg up in terms of the competition they’ve played. Wins over Gonzaga and Virginia Tech were instrumental in giving the Cougars this opportunity to get in. I personally believe that it was their 3 point loss to Baylor that best showed their strength as a team.
Generally high scoring teams are led by the play of their guards. However, the Cougars rely on one of the highest scoring front-courts in the country to beat up on their opponents. Forwards Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies are combining for almost 31 points per game as well as 12.5 rebounds. They will be an important part of the outcome of Tuesday’s game. If they can score the way they’re capable of and out-rebound the Gaels, BYU may very well find themselves playing Marquette in Louisville on Thursday.
This is the best time of the year for college basketball fans, and we couldn’t ask for a better start to the tournament then to have a pair of high-powered offense going head to head to make their way in. Tune in Tuesday night as Iona and BYU square off in what will be an entertaining and fast paced match-up.