Iona (24-11) at East Tennessee State (24-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 26th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Center (13,000) -- Johnson City, Tennessee. Television: None. CIT Record: Iona 2-0, ETSU 2-0. Series Record: East Tennessee State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: A trip to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament championship contest is on the line this afternoon when the East Tennessee State Buccaneers host the Iona Gaels in a Semifinal Round contest at Memorial Center.
The winner of this contest will meet the Santa Clara Broncos in the title game on Monday.
Iona reached the semifinals of this event by defeating Buffalo 78-63 in its last matchup, and opened the tournament with an 85-77 decision over Valparaiso. It was the 11th win in the last 12 games for Iona, which eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the second straight season. The team has been on an obvious role, having lost just once since February 7th, a string of 11 wins in the last 12 games.
As for the Bucs, they opened this event with a 76-63 decision over Furman and followed that with an 82-73 victory over Ohio. With the two wins the Bucs became the first Atlantic Sun Conference squad to win multiple postseason contests since Arkansas-Little Rock claimed three victories in the 1987 NIT.
These two schools have collided just once on the hardwood, and that meeting came back in 1988. In that matchup, the Buccaneers claimed a 92-88 victory.
The Gaels were an offensive force throughout the season both in and out of the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference and they certainly flexed their muscle in that department in the recent win over Buffalo. The Gaels, who averaged 79.1 ppg on the year, finished with 78 points against the Bulls thanks to a 47.4 percent shooting effort, which included an 11-of-23 clip from long range. Jermel Jenkins led the way in the win with 23 points, while Sean Armand and Rashon Dwight tallied 11 and 10 points, respectively. What made the victory even more impressive was the fact that the team's top two scorers were limited in the matchup. Mike Glover, who is leading the team with 17.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg, finished with just eight points, while Scott Machado (13.4 ppg and 263 assists) totaled just nine points and nine assists.
The Buccaneers were not an overpowering team in terms of offensive production during the year, netting just under 70.0 points per contest. However, in this tournament the team has really stepped up its game, posting 76 and 82 points, respectively. In the recent win over Ohio, the Bucs shot 52.9 percent from the floor and finished 21-of-29 from the foul line. Justin Tubbs, who is averaging 10.4 ppg on the year, exploded for 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Mike Smith, the team's leading scorer with 17.9 ppg, added a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Adam Sollazzo contributed 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Buccaneers have surprised a few teams in this event and have been very tough at home, but the Gaels are playing at a different level right now and should be able to crack through East Tennessee State's armor at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 78, East Tennessee State 68
03/26 10:31:42 ET