College Basketball Odds, Picks for Penn vs Iona | Why to Back Quakers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Dingle.
Penn vs. Iona Odds
We have officially entered the best time of the year with football and basketball coexisting, giving sports lovers something to tune into every night.
On Monday, two of the top programs in their respective conferences match up in the first game of their seasons.
The Penn Quakers were awarded the No. 1 ranking in the Ivy League preseason media poll.
The program returns its top four scorers from last year's team, which finished the year 9-5 in conference play.
They will be matching up against an Iona program that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the MAAC. Rick Pitino returns to New Rochelle for his third season after leading the program to a 37-11 record over the past two years.
Hopes are high within the Penn basketball program this season.
Head coach Steve Donahue was consistently speaking about the lack of experience his roster had entering last season. That inexperience showed in the first two months of the season as Penn opened with a 3-10 record.
However, the Quakers found a groove in conference play and finished with a 9-5 record against Ivy League foes.
Now Donahue returns his top four scorers from last season and 86% of last year's minutes, according to Bart Torvik. The group only loses one key contributor in Jelani Williams.
No returnee is more important than Jordan Dingle. The 6-foot-3 guard led the Ivy League in scoring last season, as he averaged 21 points per game. Dingle was a superstar down the stretch and scored 30 or more points in five of his last nine games.
He is poised to keep that trend going entering his junior year.
He's complemented by Clark Slajchert and Max Martz, who also averaged double-digit points last season. The top four scorers on the Penn roster last season all shot 34% or better from beyond the arc.
Offensively, the group was solid and averaged 72 points per game. Most of the damage was done from beyond the arc, as 40% of the Quakers' field goal attempts came from deep.
They didn’t turn the ball over often, which was a positive sign from such a young team.
The Iona revenge tour will be on full display this season after a disappointing ending to 2021. The Gaels finished conference play with a 17-3 record, but were bounced in the opening round of the MAAC Tournament.
Pitino will have his work cut out for him this season, as the Gaels return only 47% of their minutes from last season.
The dominant backcourt duo of Tyson Jolly and Elijah Joiner is gone. The two averaged 26 points and nine rebounds per game and shot 34% from deep. That leaves a massive hole at the guard position.
Pitino brought in Anton Brookshire, a transfer from Missouri. Between Brookshire and a group of freshmen, it’s largely unknown who will step into the starting roles this season.
Iona will largely lean on Nelly Junior Joseph, who was the dominant big man last season. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 13 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Iona’s offense played with great cohesion last season and assisted on 61% of its buckets, the 13th-highest rate in the country.
The Gaels thrived at getting to the free-throw line and were dominant in the paint. But without its two starting guards from last season, the offense will need to work through Junior Joseph inside.
Penn vs. Iona Betting Pick
One of the most important factors in early-season college basketball is returning production. Regardless of talent level, putting a slew of new players on the court together always comes with growing pains.
That’s going to play a massive role in this matchup, as Iona will be replacing its dominant 1-2 punch at the guard position.
To make matters worse, whoever is thrown into the fire in this matchup will have to try and slow down Dingle, a true three-way scorer. Dingle dominated down the stretch last season and will be able to continue that success against an inexperienced Iona backcourt.
The Quakers also return their top four scorers from last season. With 87% of the minutes returning from last season, this group already has great chemistry.
I was eyeing this matchup since before the lines were posted because of this mismatch. I am taking the points with Penn in a matchup I believe it will win outright.