Iona and Manhattan have basically ruled the MAAC the last two years and carried the story. The last two championship games have been close ones between the two, they are nearby rivals, and there is immense respect for one another. In fact, last year, after Manhattan won the championship game, head coach Steve Masiello said he and his staff have tried to model their program after Iona.
Friday night was the latest installment of this rivalry. The two teams are a contrast in styles, with Iona being the team that can light up the scoreboard while Manhattan can slow down and stop a lot of offenses. While Iona shot over 52 percent from the field, including 11-18 from long range, Manhattan was able to hang in by forcing 21 turnovers. The game came down to the end, but it was Iona that escaped with a 70-67 win to remain two games up in the MAAC standings.
Iona is really clicking on offense, and it starts with the two guards who led the way on Friday night in A.J. English and Schadrac Casimir. Both have always been able to score, with the former having emerged last year at the point, while the latter has come on of late. Both scored 22 points against the Jaspers, including a combined 10-15 on three-pointers.
Manhattan is competing and has some depth, but offense is a bit of a struggle. They shot just under 40 percent on Friday night. The Jaspers didn’t have such a good non-conference run this season, but they have regrouped to contend in MAAC play. This loss, however, sets them back a bit, and they still have to get through Rider to get to first place. They likely have to wait for the conference tournament for a shot at Iona where it counts, even though they meet once more this month.
Round one in this rivalry went to the Gaels, and with it they remain comfortably ahead in the standings. They control their own destiny since they don’t play Rider again, and beating Manhattan Friday night helps as well. Next month, it wouldn’t be a surprise if these two teams met once more with a lot on the line.
Arizona broke away from Washington early on en route to an 86-62 blowout of the Huskies in Seattle, continuing the Huskies’ freefall. In other Pac-12 action, Washington State edged Arizona State 74-71.
Rider, who was mentioned earlier, stayed with Iona by virtue of escaping at Canisius 60-59. That keeps the Broncs two games back in the standings.
The Ivy League had its usual busy Friday night, and the top two teams had very different endings to their games. While Yale coasted to a 75-48 blowout of Penn at the Palestra, Harvard blew a 17-point halftime lead and needed a clutch shot in the final seconds by Siyani Chambers to hold off a furious Columbia rally in their 72-68 win. There was also some drama in Hanover, but it ended a bit early in overtime as Cornell outscored Dartmouth 17-8 in overtime to pick up a win and go to 4-3 in Ivy League play.
The Horizon League also had a showdown, as Green Bay visited Valparaiso with first place on the line. Valparaiso made its six-point halftime lead stand up, building it up to 15 points before holding off Green Bay 63-59. Cleveland State had a chance to join Valparaiso atop the standings, but they went to Detroit and lost 66-65 on a late three-pointer by Juwan Howard, Jr., who had 23 points.
As much as players and coaches do all the can to not let off-court matters affect them on the court, it’s far easier said than done. Nebraska’s Terran Petteway is another example of it, as the Big Ten’s third-leading scorer has his mother on his mind as she undergoes cancer treatments. He admitted in a news conference, which was held at the suggestion of head coach Tim Miles, that he’s had a hard time handling it. He shared that he offered to give up his position as captain. The team has already been touched by cancer, as assistant coach Chris Harriman has a seven-year-old son, Avery, who is battling leukemia.
Auburn may not have Antoine Mason on Saturday when they play at Georgia, as he is in New York. The reason is that his father, former NBA player Anthony Mason, has been hospitalized for several days after suffering a heart attack, and according to his former agent, has had five procedures done, one of which took nine hours. Mason is the Tigers’ second-leading scorer at 14.7 points per game.
St. Bonaventure will be without point guard Jaylen Adams, who had surgery to repair an injured finger, for the remainder of the season. The freshman was having a fine campaign, averaging 10.0 points and 4.5 assists per game, including 55 assists and nine turnovers in the past eight games.
Nearly 140 games are on tap involving Division I teams, so there is probably a game or two you will find to be worth watching.
- North Carolina goes to Pittsburgh in an early ACC game. NC State could really use a quality win as they have been sliding of late, and they have an opportunity for that as they visit Louisville. Duke visits Syracuse early in the evening.
- The American Athletic Conference has SMU hosting ESPN’s College GameDay, and the Mustangs host Connecticut in a key game.
- In Atlantic 10 play, VCU visits George Washington in the first key game of the day, while Davidson visits La Salle, a team that isn’t far from contention.
- Baylor had been playing well before Oklahoma State knocked them off the other night. They go to Kansas in an early Big 12 game. A little later, West Virginia visits Iowa State, and in the evening Oklahoma visits a desperate Kansas State team.
- If St. John’s wants to hold out any hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament, evening their Big East mark with a win at Xavier would help. Providence hosts a Seton Hall team that could really use a win a little later. The big matchup of the day has Villanova visiting Butler with first place on the line.
- Early on, Ohio State visits Michigan State in the most noteworthy Big Ten battle of the day.
- A Mountain West showdown in the evening features Colorado State at San Diego State.
- In the Pac-12, Oregon visits UCLA.
- Kentucky hosts South Carolina in the SEC, while a key matchup among those teams chasing the Wildcats is LSU at Tennessee, with both teams at 6-5. Another one is a bit later with Florida at Texas A&M.
- The Big South has Gardner-Webb visiting Winthrop. In the CAA, Northeastern visits UNCW in a showdown of contending teams. In the Summit League, North Dakota State and South Dakota State face off with first place on the line.