Iona vs. Siena odds and predictions

Iona vs. Sienna Odds

I’m not sure how many die-hard MAAC fans are in the world, but as one of them, I’ve been excited about this game since November.

I knew Team Siena was a little different once Javian McCollum and Jackson Stormo started out on the court against Holy Cross on opening night. The Saints followed with wins over Florida State and Seton Hall.

Heading into Friday night, Siena has a half-game lead over Iona in the conference standings.

However, Iona is still the conference class and team to beat. Rick Pitino isn’t ready to give up the throne yet.

So, there’s a lot to fight for on Friday night in Albany, and the Gaels put points on the road.

While Iona boasts the highest offensive proficiency in the MAAC, she still starts on the defensive end for the Gaels.

Specifically with Nelly Jr. Joseph, who are probably the two best paths forward for the MAAC. Feel free to discuss his flashy offensive stats (15.7 PPG, 55.7 FG%, 8.7 RPG), but his combination of active defense and edge protection is the foundation of Gaels in the Pitino era.

Image credit: Central Bank of Bahrain Analytics

Iona has finished second in the MAAC in defensive efficiency three straight years, but the Gaels are also the club leaders in eFG% allowed (46.3%).

Offensively, Galles are similarly dangerous. Pitino likes to say that he emulates Mark Vew’s Gonzaga team, but you can also draw comparisons to Fran McCaffrey’s Iowa teams.

Gael is an offense accelerating the pace of pressure edge. They push the ball in transition while using catches, dribbling and post-play combinations in their half court.

Altogether, Iona is the best scoring edge team in the MAAC.

I give credit to Pitino, who created the perfect backcourt for this type of play. Dennis Jenkins became the second-best player on the MAAC team behind Junior Joseph, and he was paired perfectly with Iona’s second-year guard Walter Clayton.

The Jenkins-Clayton backcourt admirably manages the complex, high-tempo attack while rarely turning the ball over. Iona is 1st in the MAAC in offensive turnover and 14th nationally.

Siena’s defense reminds me of the Randy Bennett Saint Mary’s scheme, which Hawaii adopted. The Saints shuffle most of the ball screens, but always drop Stormo, which results in several paint conversion chances while keeping 3-point shooters off the line.

The result is that Siena allows the second lowest 3-point average in the country, but the highest rim rate. However, the Saints were fairly effective at protecting Edge thanks to Stormo.

Image credit: Central Bank of Bahrain Analytics

Siena has plenty of holes on defense, but the Saints are the best rebounding defensive team in the MAAC and have led to a 7-2 record in the league.

Offensively, Siena is similar to Iona, but the Saints are a lighter version of Iona. The Saints are an edge pressing offense, but are much less efficient at the edge.

Having said that, the Saints still knew how to descend. They run a lot of cutting combinations and off screen, and are easily the best post-conference offense.

Siena doesn’t put space on the floor very well, so open looks don’t show up too much. But this is the best cast in the conference, per ShotQuality, so the entry numbers shot and captured are very efficient.

Iona vs Siena predictions and bet selection

The big problem with this match is that McCollum still has a back injury. At the time of writing, it was listed as “questionable” on Friday night.

The Saints’ adjusted offensive efficiency mark drops by more than 10 points without McCollum hitting the ground, and everything breaks down offensively without creating his shot.

If McCollum is healthy, I would love Sienna’s chances as a house dog.

It’s a good place for Siena as the Saints look to bounce back after losing to Fairfield. Meanwhile, the Gaels are set to have a disappointing game after an overtime win in Manhattan.

In the end, I expect both offenses to drive relentlessly over the edge and both defenses to hamper those efforts. Everyone will play Drop Cover, and both coaches will see who gets out unscathed.

I’m fine playing with a house dog who has this kind of game script, especially because Sienna picked Iona in the house last season and kept him at three the year before.

Again, the disability depends entirely on McCollum’s condition. If the base is good, bet on Sienna. Otherwise, stay away.

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