Rick Pitino’s No. 13 Iona Gaels will square off with the No. 4 Connecticut Huskies in the first round of the West Region. Both squads are red-hot entering the big dance, as Iona has 16 consecutive wins while the Huskies are 9-2 over their last 11.
UConn has looked like one of the country’s best teams of late and will be a trendy pick to make the Final Four. Iona is a difficult first test but the Huskies are hefty favorites nonetheless.
With the second-best NCAA Tournament record among all active coaches (.746), can Pitino conjure up some magic to pull off an upset? Or will UConn pass this test with flying colors?
Let’s take a look at the odds before breaking it down.
Iona vs. UConn Odds, Spread, and Total
Iona vs. UConn Prediction and Pick
The Gaels are an excellent defensive team, ranking 14th nationally in opponent effective field goal percentage (45.9%), but the Huskies are too talented to falter in this matchup. Despite the big spread, I’m backing UConn to cover.
UConn is one of only a handful of teams to rank in KenPom’s top 20 in both offensive AND defensive efficiency and has faced a much more difficult schedule. It’s hard to imagine how Iona scores, given the Huskies rank 25th nationally in opponent two-point shooting percentage (45.8%) and 15th in opponent three-point shooting percentage (30%).
While the Gaels are stout defensively too, UConn will still be able to score due to one critical advantage: offensive rebounding. The Huskies lead the country in offensive rebounding percentage (39.2%), while Iona is 261st in defensive rebounding percentage (71.7%). With five different players averaging at least four rebounds per game, UConn will control the glass and generate easy buckets as a result.
Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins both average over 16 points per game and are better scorers than nearly anyone the Gaels have faced this year. Overall, the Huskies are too deep and talented for Iona to keep up.
Trust the Huskies to win this matchup by double-digits with a dominant performance inside and improve to 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games as favorites.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.