The line is high, but it was set that way for a reason.
Iona (+ 5 1/2) at Rider, 7 p.m.
The Pick: Over 159 1/2
Rider got a very unexpected gift when Canisius lost at home to Niagara, Wednesday night. A Canisius win would have made it near-impossible for the Broncs to win the MAAC regular-season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Now the Broncs (15-13), if they win their last two games Friday night at home against Iona (13-15) and Sunday afternoon at Marist (12-16), need Siena to lose at least once in their weekend trip to Buffalo against Canisius, Friday, and Niagara, Sunday.
Iona, which at one point this season was a dreadful 7-15, has won six straight and can clinch at least a tie for a top spot (don’t ask me to explain the tie-breakers) with a win over Rider, Friday night.
So this, in essence, could be the game of the year in the MAAC.
Iona beat the Broncs earlier this season in New Rochelle, 77-71. That was Rider’s first MAAC loss after a 5-0 start in conference play. A lot has happened since then.
The line, which opened at 5 and actually ticked up a half-point, is a little out of whack and tells you to take Rider. But it’s really hard to bet against Iona and give points, especially in a big game.
The Gaels have struggled on the road this year (4-9), but have won their last three road games, so there’s that. Rider has also won three straight after the Quinnipiac debacle (seven-point lead with 24 seconds left; lost in OT).
Here the play is the over. The line is high, but it was set that way for a reason. Both of these teams can score and both teams should be in the 80s Friday night. It might even take 90 to win.
Look for big nights from Iona’s Ricky McGill and Tajuan Agee and for Rider’s Stevie Jordan to run his offense and get his teammates involved in what should be an old-fashioned shoot-out.