College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Alabama vs. Iona: Why to Bet the Gaels
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- Alabama takes on Iona in what should be a high-scoring, fast-paced affair near Orlando.
- The Crimson Tide will look to ruin the Gaels' perfect start to the season in the ESPN Events Invitational tournament.
- Keg has everything covered from this matchup, including a best bet.
Alabama vs. Iona Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
When you think of a good meal, there’s one college basketball coach who comes to mind, Rick Pitino. And on Thanksgiving, the Hall of Fame coach will lead his Iona Gaels in a rematch of last year’s March Madness game against Alabama.
The Tide won that game, 68-55, spoiling what most people thought was a likely upset.
Now, the defending MAAC-champion Iona enters Thursday’s matchup with a 5-0 record, including a most recent win over North Alabama. The Gaels no longer have the two senior guards, Isaiah Ross and Asante Gist, that scored 35 of the team’s 55 points against Alabama in March.
But sophomore forward Nelly Junior Joseph headlines the group that will attempt to hand the Tide their first loss of this season.
Iona and Alabama will meet in the ESPN Events Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida.
Alabama has played the tougher schedule so far this season, but don’t discount the Gaels who are undoubtedly a better team than they were last year.
Most recently, Iona earned an 81-65 win over North Alabama on Saturday, while Alabama walked away with an 86-59 blowout victory against Oakland on Friday.
Alabama moved into the top 10 of the AP and coaches polls on Monday after jumping out to a 4-0 start. The winner of Thursday’s game will go on to play the winner of Drake vs. Belmont on Friday.
Will Iona be able to pull off the upset this year? Or will Alabama ruin Pitino’s perfect start to the season?
In their last game, Jaden Shackelford led the Tide by recording 20 points in the win.
He continues to be a star for this Alabama team and made history doing so in his last game, breaking 1,000 for his career to become just the 53rd player in program history to pass that mark.
The Tide have struggled with turnovers so far this year. Against South Alabama, the Crimson Tide had 22 turnovers. The problems continued against Liberty in the first half, as they committed nine giveaways. Things did improve in the second, though, as they only turned the ball over three times in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Don’t be surprised if Alex Tchikou has a breakout game against Iona. A four-star recruit who missed the 2020-21 season with an Achilles injury got his first game action on Friday against Oakland. He missed his only shot but did record his first rebound for the Tide.
After missing the past two games, Alabama could also have forward Juwan Gary (ankle) available for at least part of the tournament. Gary participated in practice on a limited basis early this week. Coach Nate Oates said he could return for Thursday and should be back by Sunday at the latest.
The Gaels have been great at moving the ball and passing to find scoring paths, recording an assist on 60 percent of field goals over their previous three contests. Iona has also attempted the fifth-most free throws in all of Division I.
The Gaels have averaged 28.8 free throws per game, a number that should hold against a Crimson Tide team that has recorded 32 fouls over their last two games.
Iona has proved its ability to handle high-pressure, late-game situations already this year. Against Liberty, the Gaels overcame a 16-point deficit and went on to win 54-50.
The Gaels also seem to have found a rhythm on defense. Berrick JeanLouis has been the Gaels’ top one-on-one defender, limiting Liberty’s Darius McGhee to 12 points.
The success defensively seems to be a major part of Iona’s identity through the season’s first five games. The Gaels held the Flames to just 35.1% shooting overall and an even worse 4-of-20 clip from 3-point range.
At the same time, North Alabama was limited to just 31.3% for the entire game and just 2-of-16 from long range.
Something to keep an eye on for the Gaels is Elijah Joiner’s status heading into this game. He went down with a knee injury towards the end of the Liberty game and didn’t play vs. North Alabama.
Colton Cashaw took his place in the starting lineup against the Lions. He logged a career-high 19 minutes of action but was scoreless while posting four rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Iona got by with an eight-man rotation, but it will have a much more formidable challenge ahead on Thursday against Alabama.
Alabama vs. Iona Betting Pick
The starting lineups will play a huge factor in this game. I lean Iona, but I won’t be placing the bet until it’s confirmed Joiner will be playing.
Iona currently sits at +13.5, and if Joiner is playing, I would bet them as low as +11.5.
Pick: Iona +11.5 or better