NCAA Basketball Pick: Iona Gaels +2 over Fairfield Stags

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, February 18, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Iona has lost four of its last five games while Fairfield has won five of its last six, but three of those Iona losses were in overtime and the Gaels remain the highest ranked MAAC team.

The wrong team may be favored in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action Monday night when the Iona Gaels (15-11, 5-7 away) pay a visit to the Fairfield Stags (16-11, 6-4 home) at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at 5 Dimes has Iona as a small road underdog for this contest with the current line at +2 with odds of -105.

This line seems to be a bit skewed by the fact that Iona has now lost four of its last five games following a 74-73 double overtime loss at Manhattan Friday, while Fairfield has won five of its last six.

Those streaks aside however, Iona is still the highest ranked MAAC team on the Pomeroy Ratings at 109th in the country overall, thanks to ranking an excellent 18th in offensive efficiency and 30th in effective field goal percentage. Besides, three of those last four losses were in overtime and the only one that was not was a three-point loss at Canisius, so Iona could just as easily be 4-1 or even 5-0 in those last five games instead of 1-4.

The Gaels already handled Fairfield fairly handily 84-73 back home in New Rochelle on January 18th, with a key reason being hitting 45.0 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Iona ranks 27th in the nation in three-point shooting while leading the MAAC in that category during conference games, while the Stags rank 112th in three-point defense, so the Gaels could hurt them from long range again.

And it is not as if Iona cannot win without hitting threes either, as it ranks 77th nationally in two-point shooting at an even 50.0 percent. Add in the fact that the Gaels also protect the ball extremely well ranking 13th in the land in offensive turnover percentage and it should come as no surprise that they lead the MAAC in offensive efficiency and rank second in effective field goal percentage.

Now Fairfield lost only to Manhattan in its last seven games, but besides not matching up particularly well with Iona defensively, the Stags appear to lack the firepower to keep pace offensively.

The Stags rank 187th in the country in offensive efficiency and 142nd in effective field goal percentage, a figure that is hindered by ranking a poor 220th in three-point shooting. Furthermore, unlike the Gaels, the Stags are very turnover prone ranking 233rd in offensive turnover percentage.

As for winning five of the last six, consider that the only win of that bunch vs. a team ranked in the Pomeroy Top 200 was over 187th ranked Rider at home. Iona is simply the better team when both of these clubs play at their best, which should be the case tonight with Iona at 9-6 in the conference standings and Fairfield at 8-7, as both clubs are chasing 12-4 Niagara.

Look for Iona to snap its string of unlucky losses and complete a season sweep over Fairfield on Monday.

[gameodds]14/221245/19-238-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Iona +2 (-105)