Manhattan (14-5) at Iona (11-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, January 31, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hynes Center (2,611) -- New Rochelle, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Manhattan 5-3, Iona 7-2. Away Record: Manhattan 8-2, Iona 4-6. Neutral Record: Manhattan 1-0, Iona 0-0. Conference Record: Manhattan 7-3, Iona 8-2. Series Record: Iona leads, 45-37.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams near the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings will settle their differences on Friday night, as the Manhattan Jaspers pay a visit to the Iona Gaels at the Hynes Center.
Manhattan has stumbled a bit recently, with losses in two of their last three contests, including a 90-86 disappointment in overtime last Sunday against Quinnipiac. The Jaspers are still 14-5 overall and currently tied for third in the MAAC standings at 7-3 in league play. They will host Saint Peter's in their next outing.
Iona recently dealt with the Peacocks, defeating them in a 71-63 final last Sunday. The Gaels have won three straight games, improving to 11-8 overall and pulling into a tie with Quinnipiac for first in the conference standings (8-2) in the process. They will kick off a three-game road trip against Monmouth next.
This is a rematch of last year's title game in the MAAC Tournament. Iona pulled out a 60-57 victory in that contest, after the teams split the regular- season series. The three contests were decided by a total of 12 points. In terms of the all-time series, Iona holds a 45-37 edge.
Emmy Andujar's layup with 49 seconds to play gave Manhattan a 77-75 lead over Quinnipiac, but a pair of free throws at the other end forced overtime. A 6-0 run from the Bobcats during a two-minute stretch in the extra session was enough to separate the teams, as the Jaspers fell short in the end.
Manhattan has rarely had an issue putting points on the boards this season, ranking second in the MAAC in scoring (78.2 ppg), while shooting at a 43 percent clip from the field. Leading the way for the Jaspers are George Beamon (19.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Michael Alvarado (14 ppg, 4 apg). Beamon, who is third in the league in scoring, struggled his way to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting against Quinnipiac. Alvarado netted 15 points and handed out seven assists in the losing effort. Rhamel Brown (9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.7 bpg) had 15 points in the contest as well, while adding to his conference-leading block total with five.
Paced by 18 points from A.J. English, Iona was able to pull out a road victory over Saint Peter's. The Gaels hit on 47.2 percent of their total shots, while recording assists on 17 of their 25 field goals.
Iona knows a thing or two about lighting up the scoreboard, as it leads the MAAC in scoring (83.2 ppg), assists (17.9 apg) and field goal percentage (.481). Each of those marks ranks among the top-30 in the country as well. Sean Armand (18.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) and English (17.8 ppg, 4.1 apg) do most of the heavy lifting, with each among the top-10 scorers in the conference. Both Armand and English are strong passers as well. Tre Bowman (13.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and David Laury (12.3 ppg, 7 rpg) can also fill it up, with Laury serving as the team's best threat in the paint and on the glass.
This game figures to be a high-scoring affair, as it features the top two offensive squads in the MAAC. Expect the Gaels' superior offensive ability, coupled with the homecourt advantage to lead them to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 81, Manhattan 77
01/31 10:32:31 ET