March Madness: SJU, SHU, ‘Cuse headline locals at the dance

March Madness. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
March Madness. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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March Madness
Tim Cluess. Iona Gaels. March Madness. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Iona Gaels (17-15) – 16th seed, South Regional

How they got here: MAAC Champions

Opening round opponent: #1 seed North Carolina 3/22

The 2018-19 Gaels are a streaky team. They had losing streaks of two, four, and seven games before ending the season on a 10-game winning streak. They picked a good time to turn it around, punching their dance ticket.

This year Iona coach Tim Cluess had six players who averaged over 24 minutes per game, all upperclassmen. Actually, they lost star guard Isaiah Still midway through the season but found a way to prevail. Junior E.J. Crawford was their leading scorer with 17.9 PPG. Senior Ricky McGill put up 15.5 PPG to go along with a team-high 5.0 APG.

All their hard work got them to the tournament, but they won’t be there long. Iona meets the South’s top seed North Carolina and are likely one and done.

Yale Bulldogs (22-7) – 14th seed, East Regional

How they got here: Yale rallied in the second half on Sunday to defeat the Ivy League regular season champs, Harvard, 97-85.

Opening round opponent: #3 seed LSU 3/21

No Ivy League team is an easy out come March. This year’s Yale team will be no different. Early season wins over power conference teams California, and Miami proves it. Coach James Jones led the Bulldogs to a 22-7 record. Five of those seven losses were to 20-win teams, Duke, Harvard (twice), Memphis, and Vermont. They will play anyone hard for 48 minutes.

On the floor, 6-6 guard Miye Oni was the Bulldogs leading scorer with 17.6 PPG. He also topped the team in assists per game (APG) with 3.5. Jordan Brunner, a 6-9 forward from Columbia, SC, added 10.2 PPG and pulled down an average of 8.3 RPG. LSU will have all they can handle with this team.