Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus Ohio
When: Friday, March 22, 2019, 9:20 pm Eastern
We have a Midwest Region first-round contest to consider when the Iona Gaels meet the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday evening in Columbus Ohio. Iona was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Champions and the Tar Heels tied for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I’m the Flash and I will be previewing this battle between the 16 seed Gaels and number one seed North Carolina for you today!!
Iona Makes Fourth Consecutive NCAA Appearance
Iona enters this tournament as the MAAC Champions with a record of 17 wins and 115 losses and won the conference with a 12-6 mark. KenPom ranks the Gaels number 197 in the country with a strength of schedule as the 300th strongest schedule in D1 hoops. Iona didn’t play any top 25 squads this season and have a seven-game losing streak and a five-game losing streak this season. The Gaels are currently on a 10-game winning streak and that’s their only significant winning streak this season. This will be one of the Gaels biggest games in school history, and they have a daunting task ahead of them in the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Tim Cluess: "That's what makes basketball fun, you want to play against the best." pic.twitter.com/5e0GWIs6rt
— Iona Men's Hoops (@IonaGaelsMBB) March 17, 2019
The Gaels aren’t listing any injuries for the matchup with North Carolina on Friday.
Iona has a neutral site record of 4-3 this season and are enjoying a ten-game winning streak.
Junior guard E.J Crawford leads Iona in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game with 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Crawford nails 1.8 triples per night and has exceeded his scoring average in three of his last five games.
The Gaels score an average of 76.8 points per game and grab 7.5 offensive rebounds, haul in 26.9 defensive boards and drop 13.2 assists per game this season.
UPDATE #1 3-20-2019 The Flash
Iona Head Coach Tim Cluess had a great interview with Mike Francesca that is a must listen
— Iona Men's Hoops (@IonaGaelsMBB) March 18, 2019
UPDATE #2 3-21-2019 The Flash
Junior guard Asante Gist was asked about the Gaels 2-9 start, and would he have believed Iona would be playing North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament
We always thought we were a good team. That never was the case. We always knew it was just minor things we had to get together. And we always had each other’s back.
This team has always been resilient and always had each other’s back. We never looked and said, oh, we can’t do this. We always felt as though if we just got on the same page that would be a scary sight. And now we’re here. So we’re just trying to go out there — we’re not going out there just to be here; we’re not happy to be here. We want to get a win. That’s what we all tell each other on a consistent basis.
North Carolina 8-4 Against Top 25 This Season
North Carolina is the number one seed in the Midwest Region for a reason; the Tar Heels are one of if not the best side in NCAA basketball this season. KenPom ranks the ACC Co-Champions as the number six team in the nation with the second strongest schedule in the country. The Tar Heels boast an 8-4 record this season against Top 25 schools and never once lost more than one consecutive game while enjoying winning streaks of five, four, seven and eight games. The Tar Heels record of 27-6 speaks for itself, and the Gaels could be in big trouble on Friday night.
Carolina’s 1️⃣7️⃣th No. 1 Seed – most all-time
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) March 17, 2019
The Tar Heels aren’t reporting any significant injuries for their game with Iona on Friday night.
North Carolina has a 2-3 record in games at neutral sites this season and is hoping to end a one-game losing streak.
Senior guard Cameron Johnson leads the Tar Heels in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game with 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Johnson drills 2.8 three-pointers per game and has outscored his average in three of the past five games.
The Tar Heels score an average of 86.1 points per game and haul down 11.4 offensive rebounds, snare 32.1 defensive boards and drop 19 dimes per game this season.
UPDATE #2 3-20-2019 The Flash
Head Coach Roy Williams shares his thoughts about being the number one seed in the Midwest Region;
“It’s special to be a No. 1 seed. The most special thing is to see the way our kids reacted when they saw our name as a No. 1 seed and they put North Carolina up there. I just love the way they were genuinely excited. They’re kids. We’ve enjoyed some good moments, and we’ve had some difficult ones like the one against Duke in the ACC Tournament or Virginia or Louisville. But at the same time, I love the excitement.
“When I decide to retire, which hopefully is a few years down the road, I’ll look back on 13 No. 1 seeds and feel good about it. But for now, I’ve got my team, we’re playing in the NCAA Tournament and people think we’ve had a pretty good year.”
UPDATE #2 3-21-2019 The Flash
Senior forward and Tar Heels leading rebounder Luke Maye held court with reporters and discussed a variety of topics!
Stay tuned for updates up to tip-off!!
- Under is 4-0 in Tar Heels last 4 games following a straight up loss.
- Under is 4-1 in Tar Heels last 5 non-conference games.
- Under is 4-1 in Tar Heels last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
- Gaels are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
- Gaels are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is not a spread to win “Cash with the Flash” on and normally I would leave this one alone. In fact, I will leave this alone because that’s too many points to lay if you are rolling with Carolina and too big a risk to play Iona. North Carolina is 20-9-3 ATS and covers about 70 percent of the time while Iona is 13-19 ATS this season and covers the spread roughly 40 percent of the time. If I were going to bet this game, I would side with the Tar Heels to cover this spread on Friday night.
Prediction: North Carolina -24.5 Points
Full-Game Total Pick
Holy cow, what a total!! North Carolina finishes under the total in 54 percent of their games this season and Iona finishes under the total in 46 percent of its games this season. I’m thinking the Carolina defense holds Iona in check for most of this game and I don’t see the Tar Heels trying to run up the score on Iona.
When I did the math and added everything together, I came up with 145 points and thought that might be about right. I will be playing the under in this contest on Friday.
Prediction: Under 161.5 Points