We have another chance to watch, in person, a Division I postseason college basketball game tonight at 7:30 p.m. locally in New Rochelle, as Iona College hosts the University of Buffalo in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Iona is 23-11 on the season after a 93-75 first round win at Valparaiso in the first round of the tournament, and received a bye in the second round. Buffalo defeated Western Michigan on Saturday in the second round of the event.
Iona sophomore forward Kyle Smyth, hurt in the Metro Atlantic Conference final against Saint Peter's, is described as "doubtful" by the Iona Sports Information Department. Smyth is a solid defensive player and averaged 10.1 points per game. Watch for freshman Sean Armand who averages 5.6 points per game to pick up some of the offensive play.
I would not be surprised if senior Rashon Dwight has a big night, given another chance to play on the Hynes Center court. Rashon averages 8.7 points per game starting at the two guard and is always smiling, projecting optimism and energy to his team.
Iona has a deep bench in the backcourt, with shooting guard Jermel Jenkins playing over 28 minutes per game, and averaging 9.4 points on the season. Junior Trinity Fields, another team leader, has contributed late in the season, scoring a career high 16 points in Iona's win over Valpo. Sophomore forward Chris Pelcher can come in and fight for rebounds, giving a breather to senior Alejo Rodriquez, who averages 6.7 points per game but has played through injuries.
For the Bulls, their top scorer is junior guard Zach Filzen, averaging 15.7 points per game and leading the team with 109 three-point shots. The senior point guard Byron Mulkey averages 13.2 points, nearly five assists per game and has 81 steals on the season. At forward, freshman Javon McCrea has contributed 11.6 points per game and a team high 6.3 rebounds per game. McCrea has a good inside game as well, with a 63 percent field goal percentage.
The game presents interesting matchups, as Jayon McCrea will play versus Iona junior forward Mike Glover, who had his 19th double-double of the season against Valpo and likes to dunk and make put back layups when ever possible. He often attracts double or triple teams opening Iona's other shooters. The 6'7", 215-pound Glover is averaging 17.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and has a 57 percent field goal average.
Watch how Buffalo's point guard Mulkey plays against Iona's Scott Machado, who is one of the top playmakers in the NCAA, averaging over seven assists per game. The Gael junior point guard from Queens, NY is averaging 12.5 points per game.
Iona and Buffalo have some history, having played seven times previously with the Bulls having a 4-3 advantage. The last matchup between the two came in the 2006-2007 season. The last game played between the two in New Rochelle was in the 2006 ESPNU Bracketbuster Tournament, which resulted in Iona's 20th win of the season, 93-75.
This will be the first postseason home game for Iona at the Hynes Center since the 1996 season, when the Gaels were matched up with St. Joseph's in the NIT.
When the Gaels hosted a 1983 NIT game against St. Bonaventure, I was going to a class that night as a graduate student at the Hagan School of Business next door. As a devoted basketball fan from my undergraduate days at Providence, it was tempting to skip class and go to the game, but I went to class and ran over to the gym to check the score during the break.
Iona's win that night was their last postseason victory before last week's win at Valpo, the years go by fast. At the MAAC Tournament I mentioned to one of the Iona senior cheerleaders before the game, to look around, because you remember these games and the people you were with for a long time.
Still standing in the quarterfinals of the tournament is SMU, which defeated Northern Iowa 57-50 on Monday. While Iona and Buffalo are playing in New Rochelle, NY; Ohio at 19-15, will play at 23-11 East Tennessee State, and 21-14 Santa Clara will play at San Francisco as a late-starting 10 p.m. game.
All of these teams want to win and possibly add a championship banner to the rafters of their arena, so it will be fun to watch. Iona has priced tickets are $10 at the door, $5 for children and free for Iona students with IDs. Perhaps you are tired of watching NCAA games on television and want to take your children to a game—this is a great opportunity to see a highly competitive tournament basketball game in person.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM in New Rochelle, NY. Reach him on firstname.lastname@example.org