Iona is preparing for their first-round matchup against the University of Connecticut in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Although they are aware of the challenge they face, the Gaels are excited for the opportunity to upset the higher-seeded Huskies.
According to starting guard Daniss Jenkins, his team knows that they have a small margin of error in this game and must play almost perfectly to win.
Connecticut, led by Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, is not a typical fourth-seed team.
They have national-championship potential, defeating the overall No. 1 seed, Alabama, and Big East regular-season and tournament champion Marquette.
The Huskies are also one of four teams in the country ranked in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Pitino acknowledges the challenge his team faces and believes they must play great to beat the Huskies.
Despite being a 13th seed, Iona is confident in their abilities, having won 14 straight games and playing a competitive non-conference schedule.
They also overcame key injuries to several players and got stronger as the season progressed.
The Gaels’ goal for the season was to win their first NCAA Tournament game, and they are excited for the opportunity to achieve that goal.
To pull off the upset, Iona must hold their own in the paint against UConn’s bigger, deeper, and more athletic team.
The Huskies are the No. 1 team in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and pound their opponents on the glass, ranked second nationally in rebounding margin at plus-nine.
Iona’s focus this week has been on gang rebounding to limit UConn’s second-chance opportunities.
Three keys to victory for Iona include protecting the defensive glass, staying close in the game to make Connecticut feel the pressure of past March failures, and keeping forward Nelly Junior Joseph on the floor to deal with the Huskies’ size inside.
Although challenging, Iona is excited for the chance to upset UConn and advance in the tournament.»Iona Faces Tough Challenge in UConn, but Confident in NCAA Tournament Debut«