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No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Iona preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Iona Gaels meet at Hinkle Fieldhouse in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Will Iona cover the spread against Alabama?

March 19 update: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 15 Iona as of March 19th at 11 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Alabama: -16.5: 52% of action, 47% of bets
Iona: +16.5: 48% of action, 53% of bets

Over 148: 92% of action, 75% of bets
Under 148: 8% of action, 25% of bets

Fresh off conference tournament championships, the No. 2 seed Alabama Crimson Tide and 15th seed Iona Gaels will match up in the first round on Saturday, March 20th. Alabama is heavily favored heading into this game and rightfully so with the way they’ve been playing against SEC competition. This game will tip off at 4 p.m. ET from Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and can be seen on TBS.

No. 2 Alabama: 24-6 (16-2 SEC): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 8 Overall, 34 Offense, 2 Defense
NET ranking: 7, (8-4 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Jaden Shackelford
Key stat: Senior forward Herbert Jones leads Alabama in rebounds (6.4), assists (3.4), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.1) per game.

The Alabama Crimson Tide completed a fantastic season with an SEC Tournament, and second-year head coach Nate Oats has his team playing at an incredibly high level. On a six-game winning streak, Alabama plays a fast-paced style while also having one of the best defenses in the entire country.

Watch for the Crimson Tide to get as many fast break opportunities as possible even after a made shot from Iona, which makes Alabama difficult to defend.

No. 15 Iona: 12-5 (6-3 MAAC): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 181 Overall, 210 Offense, 161 Defense
NET ranking: 138 (0-1 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Isaiah Ross
Key stat: Iona led the MAAC in rebounding margin with a 5.9 mark this season.

No matter where he is, Rick Pitino is a very good basketball coach, and he brought the Iona Gaels to the NCAA Tournament in his first season with the program. Iona won six in a row and led the MAAC in free throw shooting percentage and placed second in points per game, field goal percentage and three-point shooting percentage.

Watch for the Gaels to let it fly from three-point range and attack offensive rebounds. Hot shooting and second chances will be crucial for Iona to keep it close.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Alabama -16.5
Point total: 147
Moneyline: Alabama -2000, Iona +1050

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Iona +16.5
Point total pick: Under 147
Pick to Win: Alabama

Alabama is going to win this game, but we cannot bet against a Rick Pitino-coached team getting 17 points before the game even starts, so let’s take Iona and the points. The Crimson Tide will want to play fast, but Iona will slow the game down to give themselves a better chance to keep this somewhat close, and they’ll just enough for this under to hit.