College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction: Princeton vs. Iona Tuesday Betting Preview (Dec. 13)

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction: Princeton vs. Iona Tuesday Betting Preview (Dec. 13) article feature image

Via Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Daniss Jenkins (Iona)

  • Iona and Princeton face off in a high-quality mid-major duel in Union, New Jersey on Tuesday evening.
  • The Gaels are thriving under Rick Pitino as they just blew out Saint Louis and are coming into this one winners of four straight.
  • Shane McNichol explains why Iona will keep the winning ways going and makes his best bet.

Princeton vs. Iona Odds

Tuesday, Dec. 13
7 p.m. ET
Princeton Odds
-110o / -110u
Iona Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via UniBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Tuesday's meeting between Princeton and Iona has way more juice than any December game between teams from the Ivy League and MAAC should.

The two schools and programs feel like distinct opposites in so many ways. This matchup will be played at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, essentially the midpoint between the two campuses.

Princeton enters with momentum after winning eight in a row. Iona does too, with its last two games being victories over Atlantic 10 schools, pulling the Gaels into KenPom's top 60.

With both teams on the precipice of conference play, this game looms as a major momentum boost and resume builder.

Which side should you be looking to back?

Princeton Tigers

The Tigers entered the season with high hopes and were considered among the class of the Ivy League. Head coach Mitch Henderson returned key pieces from last year's team that went 12-2 in conference play and lost in the Ivy League title game.

Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan returned and is looking to become just the third player to earn that honor in back-to-back seasons this century.

However, the Tigers' season started with a speed bump. Princeton began the year 0-2, losing games to Hofstra and Navy by a combined seven points.

Those speed bumps are a distant memory now, as Princeton has ripped off eight straight wins over the last month. We won't get carried away with the Tigers' performance against a very light schedule (328th by KenPom's rankings) that has not featured a single game against a top-100 team.

Princeton's offensive attack is built around Evbuomwan in the middle. He's a traditional low-post scoring big man with a body type you do not see in the Ivy League.

He frequently demands a double-team, which opens up Princeton's arsenal of outside shooters to find the daylight they need to knock down open looks.

On the other end of the court, the Tigers do an incredible job of maximizing possessions. Per KenPom, Princeton leads the nation in Defensive Rebounding Rate, allowing under 20% of their opponents' misses to result in another chance.

The possession imbalance created by that effective glass cleaning gives the Tigers more looks at the rim, which Princeton's patient and efficient offense doesn't let go to waste.

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Iona Gaels

Rick Pitino's Gaels started the season — unlike Princeton — with an emphatic win. Iona waxed Princeton's biggest rival, the Penn Quakers, by a final score of 78-50. They've since lost twice — to Hofstra and Santa Clara — but have earned major praise for wins over Vermont, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure.

While Princeton creates extra possessions with its defensive rebounding prowess, Iona creates extra possessions by consistently winning the turnover battle.

The Gaels commit 10.5 turnovers per game while forcing their opponents into 17 turnovers per game. No other team in the nation averages as few turnovers while forcing more (or vice versa).

Just having that advantage of seven (likely high quality) possessions per game would be enough to elevate Iona over many of its peers, yet Pitino has built a roster that can maximize those chances even further.

Daniss Jenkins was a double-figure scorer last season at Pacific and has grown into a 17.6-point and 5.1-assist per game player under Pitino. Walter Clayton Jr. is adding 16 points per game on 41% long range shooting. Nelly Junior Joseph is a force on the interior, with 18 career double-doubles.

Pitino's advantage on the sidelines — built on years of success and experience — feels like it becomes apparent several times each game. He's created a bit of machine at Iona, improbably putting the Gaels conceivably near the NCAA tournament bubble if they continue winning.

Princeton vs. Iona Betting Pick

The battle between Junior Joseph and Evbuomwan grappling for post positioning and every single rebound will be a battle worth the price of admission.

Do yourself a favor and let your eyes wander from watching the ball constantly to the half chess match, half wrestling match going on in the paint during this game.

On the perimeter, however, Iona has a clear advantage. Jenkins will be the best guard on the floor and should put Iona in a distinctly better position to score than Princeton on the other end.

Iona blew out a Penn team that should have a similar fate as Princeton, with both hovering near the top of the Ivy League standings. Penn doesn't have any athletes like Evbuomwan, and that was clear when the Gaels waxed the Quakers.

Evbuomwan will help close that gap, but not enough for Princeton to win the game. I like Pitino and the Gaels to win and cover.

Pick: Iona -5.5

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC