MAAC Tournament: Monmouth vs Iona Prediction
MAAC Tournament: Monmouth vs Iona Preview
The way this season started for both ball clubs, it’s hard to envision them being in this spot–one win away from the NCAA Tournament. The Monmouth Hawks (14-20, 10-8) started the season with 12 straight losses–yes, 0-12. The Iona Gaels (16-15, 12-6) didn’t start much better, earning a 2-9 record to begin non-conference play. Add their records together, the teams combined for a 2-21 non-conference slate, and were considered dead in the water before MAAC play started.
A lot of those doubts were because neither of these teams were selected to finish in the top two of the conference–those honors went to Rider and Canisius. The Broncs were bounced in their first Tournament game and Monmouth got the better of Canisius in the semifinals.
The Hawks were able to advance to this final game without the help from their best player, Ray Salnave, who averaged 19 points in the MAAC Tournament coming into the game against Canisius–but he was off, as he shot 1-for-8 from the field and scored five points. Senior Diago Quinn put the team on his back and was a force in the paint recording a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He was too much for the Canisius, who lacked a big-bodied presence inside.
For Iona, advancing was more of a team effort. Asante Gist tied his season high with 22 points, Rickey McGill had 18 points and six rebounds, E.J. Crawford added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tajuan Agee had 13 rebounds for Iona who dominated Siena from the opening tip before eventually winning 73-57.
Both teams were able to pick up a victory against each other during the course of the regular season. Iona beat Monmouth at home to start conference play back in January, McGill scored a season-high 29 points on 9-for-11 shooting and the Gaels poured in 17 three-pointers to come to a decisive 103-84 victory.
Salnave was the Hawks hero in January when the team’s met again and he hit the game-winning shot with 1.1 second left to lift Monmouth over Iona, 83-81.
For this game, it will be much of the same–these programs know each other very well and their players understand the style of play of their opponents. It will be a high-scoring battle with little defense.
Monmouth wins if…
Ray Salnave doesn’t have a 1-for-8 shooting performance like he did against the Griffs. He’ll need to pour in 20+ points and Diego Quinn will need to be the force in the paint he was in the semifinals.
Those two players dominate and the Hawks will be dancing for the first time under King Rice.
Iona wins if…
They do what they keep on doing. Play team basketball. No one player is trying to do too much and they are sharing the rock and playing defense better than they have all season. Momentum is on the Gaels side, but they have to do it one more time on the court.
Iona has won the last three MAAC Tournaments and have been the lone representative for the conference in the Big Dance since 2015.
Coming into this tournament I said the field was wide open and we would likely not see top-seeds in the final. Well, we have the No.1 seed, but the No.6 seed also made the final two.
I had predicted the entire MAAC Tournament bracket–and I felt great going into the semifinal games as my two finalists (Canisius and Siena) were still alive. Obviously, that did not go as planned–but you can see the full prediction list here.
LINE: -5 Monmouth
Dan’s Bet: Over 142
Score Prediction: Monmouth 89 Iona 88