Iona College punched its ticket to the Big Dance by defeating Manhattan College and winning the MAAC championship on Monday night. The Gaels are no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, as this will be their 10th appearance and third in the last six years. Iona hasn’t won a tournament game since 1980.
Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the Gaels:
1.Their head coach is going to wear sweats in the NCAA Tournament. He’s not going all Bob Huggins on you, though. Tim Cluess and his staff started wearing sweat suits as a way to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis on March 1, and Iona hasn’t lost since. So he’ll probably look like a homeless man when his team takes the court on national television.
2. They earned an at-large bid last season. Led by nation’s assists leader and current Golden State Warriors farm hand Scott Machado, the Gaels were one of the surprise at-large selections to the tournament last season. They were breathtaking to watch, and raced out to a 25-point lead in their First Four game with BYU before falling apart and losing.
3. They can score with anybody. Iona ranks third in the nation in scoring at 80.7 points per game. They’ve put up at least 90 points nine times, and can run opponents ragged with a fast-paced, transition offense.
4. They’ve got high-major talent. Leading scorer Lamont ‘Momo’ Jones ranks third in the country in scoring, putting up 23 points per game. He is a transfer from Arizona, where he helped lead the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2011. Jones could garner some NBA attention.
5. This is a New York city team. Seven players on the roster are from the NYC area. The school is located in New Rochelle, which is 35 minutes from the city.