The Iona Gaels and Manhattan Jaspers meet for the third time in 2013-14, and the winner between the New York colleges in Springfield, Mass., will earn a ticket to the Big Dance. The top two seeds in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament square off in the title game Monday night having split regular season games.
This year, Iona (22-9) pulled out an 85-73 home win on Jan. 31 before Manhattan took down the No. 1 seeded team in overtime on Feb. 28.
The high-scoring Gaels (fourth in the NCAA at 84 points per game) enter the title game coming off a 75-72 win Sunday over No. 4 seed Canisius. As usual, guard Sean Armand led Tim Cluess' team with 21 points and five assists in the victory. And Iona needed every one of its shots to go down. It shot 51 percent and held its opponent to 43 percent, but struggled to contain Canisius on the offensive glass.
Manhattan (24-7) had an easier time reaching the championship game by beating St. Peter's by 14 on Saturday, then handling No. 3 seed Quinnipiac by 19 points on Sunday. Swingman George Beamon leads the Jaspers with averages of 19.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and he, guard Michael Alvarado and 6'7 forward Rhamel Brown will need to be at their best to give Manhattan its first tournament bid since 2004.
The foes are mighty familiar with one another. The Gaels dropped the Jaspers in the championship game last season to earn a second straight NCAA appearance. Now, Iona goes for its third NCAA Tournament bid in a row.
7 p.m. ET