Coach Tim Welsh
Team scoring 81.0 (FG%: 46.7) (3-pointers: 204-583, 35.0%)
Opponents' scoring 69.8 (FG%: 40.7)
Rebound margin +0.1
Team FT% 68.6
Whom not to foul John McDonald (80%), Ivo Kresta (80%)
Whom to foul Phil Grant (60%)
Quality wins At Rutgers 70-62, at Providence 68-62
Player to Watch
At 6'8", 225 pounds, junior center Kashif Hameed survives inside on quickness and leaping ability more than strength. He was the Metro Atlantic player of the year, averaging 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds (42.5% of them off the offensive glass) and 2.6 blocks, despite playing only 28.6 minutes a game in the Gaels' nine-man rotation. The question in the NCAAs is whether he can hold his own against bigger opponents. In a 30-point loss to bruising Clemson, foul trouble limited Hameed to zero points in 16 minutes.
Iona usually plays tight man-to-man defense, which is why Welsh shuttles in players at nearly every whistle. The effort pays off: Only four opponents made more than half their shots against the Gaels. On offense, McDonald is a steady senior point guard who commits few turnovers (1.9 a game) and is one of four Gaels who averaged in double figures.
Iona will beat Syracuse in a first-round upset special and then be home by St. Patrick's Day.
MARCH 13, 15/ATLANTA
Coach Tubby Smith
Team scoring 79.1 (FG%: 47.7) (3-pointers: 211-502, 36.3%)
Opponents' scoring 66.0 (FG%: 38.6)
Rebound margin +10.4
Team FT% 67.8
Whom not to foul Cameron Mills (94%), Scott Padgett (84%)
Whom to foul Heshimu Evans (59%), Allen Edwards (62%)
Quality wins Purdue 89-75, Arkansas 80-77, at S. Carolina 69-57
Player to Watch
Just when senior shooting guard Jeff Sheppard found his touch, he sprained his ankle in the SEC tournament. In his last 10 games he took over as team scoring leader (13.2), with a career-high 25 at Auburn and 24 against South Carolina. His recovery is critical to the Cats.