The Iona Gaels (15-5) will travel on the road to take on the Fairfield Stags (10-9) in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference showdown Friday night inside the Webster Bank Arena.
Iona Gaels at Fairfield Stags
Iona had its two-game winning streak snapped with a 65-62 loss to the Siena Saints as 10.5-point road favorites last time out, as the program looks to bounce back with a second straight victory in this series. The Gaels will meet up with the Stags in a contest that pits the MAAC’s preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams under the “Bright Lights” on ESPNU. The program holds a 55-40 series advantage, but has tallied a 22-23 record on Fairfield’s home floor. Iona is 6-4 ATS as a road favorite of three points or less the last two-plus seasons.
The Gaels 15-5 start after 20 games is tied for the 10th-best start in school history, as the offense is third nationally in scoring 83.7 points per game. Iona was held to a season-low 62 points last time out and will look to get senior Mike Glover involved early in offensive sets. He ranks second in college basketball in hitting 67 percent of his shots, averaging 7.5 field goals per game. Senior point guard Scott Machado is the pilot of one of the nation’s best offenses, leading all players with 10.4 assists per game.
Fairfield has bounced back after a three-game losing streak to win its last two games, including a 75-63 win over the Saint Peter’s Peacocks as seven-point road favorites on Jan. 19. The Stags have alternated going “over” and “under” the posted total in the last seven games, climbing above the posted total of 122 last time out. Offensively, the team is averaging 64.7 points per game, shooting 44 percent from the floor and just 65.1 percent from the charity stripe. Fairfield is 1-8 ATS as a home underdog of three points or less.
The Stags will need senior forward Rakim Sanders to break out offensively in order to pick up the slight upset tonight, averaging 15.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Tonight’s game matches up the top scoring team in the MAAC versus the top defensive team, signifying that something has to give at the end of 40 minutes of play. Sanders is averaging nearly a double-double against conference opponents this year, registering 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per MAAC affair.
Bettors will likely back the Gaels due to their 5-1 ATS mark as a road favorite of 6.5 points or less, while the Stags are 1-4-1 ATS versus conference opponents.
Recommendation: Iona Gaels -1.5
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