College Basketball NIT Odds & Picks for Iona vs. Florida: How Motivated Will Gators Be?
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon McKissic (Florida)
- Florida hosts Iona in an intriguing NIT first-round battle between two solid squads.
- Mike White moved onto take over the head coaching position at Georgia, while the Gaels surprisingly lost in the MAAC Tournament to Rider.
- Here's how our staff is betting this NIT tilt.
Iona vs. Florida Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
This is an interesting first-round NIT matchup between two teams that believed they would play in the NCAA Tournament for most of the season.
Iona absolutely dominated its MAAC opponents throughout the regular season, finishing with a 17-3 mark in conference play.
That changed in the postseason tournament, however, as the Gaels were stunned by 9-seeded Rider, 71-70, in the quarterfinals.
As for the Gators, well it was an up-and-down year to say the least. Florida won its first six games of the year — which included a win over Ohio State — and were in the top-25 in December.
In SEC play, Florida really scuffled and could not find any type of consistency, particularly against the upper echelon of the conference.
These two teams now face off in the NIT, and it will be interesting to see what kind of effort we get from both groups.
Can Iona rebound from the shocking loss to Rider and make a run? Will Florida show up for this game after a disappointing end to the year?
Let’s get into it.
With talent that has proven to compete with some of the top schools in the country, Rick Pitino has built a powerhouse at Iona. The Gaels finished the season with a 25-6 record while winning the MAAC regular season title (17-3 in the conference).
Iona has a pair of graduate students running the back court in Tyson Jolly and Elijah Joiner. They combined to put up 26 points per game while dishing out 33% of the team’s assists this season.
6-foot-9 forward Nelly Junior Joseph has been a monster inside the paint on both ends of the floor. Junior Joseph is averaging 13 points on 54% shooting from the field, while snatching eight rebounds per contest.
Iona is an experienced group that shares the basketball offensively. The program has assisted on 61% of its made field goals this season, which is the 13th-most in the country.
Defensively, the Gaels have blocked shots at the eighth-highest rate, while holding opponents to just 30% from 3-point territory.
Iona ran through MAAC play with a 17-3 record, and out-scored its opponents by an average of eight points per game. But the Gaels were equally as impressive in non-conference play, as the group defeated Alabama before hanging tough with Kansas, Saint Louis and Belmont.
Florida lost to Alabama by 13 points this season, which is the one common opponent between these two programs.
While yesterday I touched on why Vanderbilt should be one of the more motivated Power-5 teams to play in the NIT, the Gators may be the exact opposite.
This is a team that had NCAA Tournament aspirations all year, and ultimately came up short when it fell to Texas A&M in overtime in the SEC Tournament.
Throw in the fact that it was announced on Sunday that Mike White is leaving Gainesville to become the next head coach at Georgia, and it’s hard to see the Gators getting too fired up for this home game against Iona.
Colin Castleton has been outstanding on the interior all year for the Gators, and he should be in line for a big night against the visiting Gaels.
The Gators’ guard play however, has been inconsistent all year, and that has held the team back as a whole.
Tyree Appleby and Phlandrous Fleming Jr. have had moments of brilliance throughout the year, but there have also been plenty of games where both have really struggled from the floor.
Iona can score it in bunches, so Florida will need to play well offensively to advance to the second round of the NIT.
Iona vs. Florida Betting Pick
I really like the spot here for the Gaels — catching seven points against a Florida team with all sorts of things going on externally around the program.
Pitino’s team defeated Alabama earlier in the season, and it has shown it can compete against big-boy opponents.
I give Iona a legitimate chance to pull off the upset here and win this game outright, but taking the points is the safer bet.
The Gaels should be able to get plenty of good looks in the half-court, and if they can keep Castleton in check on the other end, they should cover this number pretty easily.
Pick: Iona +7 (Play to +6)
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