Iona is once again looking to shock the college basketball world with another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Last year the Gaels excelled in non-conference play to earn an at-large bid to the tourney.
Not much has changed for the 2012-2013 season as Iona will face four NCAA Tournament teams from last season, including Connecticut and two squads that qualified for the NIT.
“We once again look forward to a very challenging non-conference schedule this season,” said Gales coach Tim Cluess. “Each game puts us against a formidable opponent as we prepare for league play and a run at the MAAC Championship.”
Iona opens its season at home against Denver on November 9.
The Gales return to action the following weekend to take on Quinnipiac at the Paradise Jam on November 16. Quinnipiac advanced to the NEC semifinal last season and also played in the CBI. Iona will face either Connecticut or Wake Forest in the second game of the Paradise Jam.
Game three of the Paradise Jam is set for November 19. George Mason, Illinois-Chicago, Mercer and New Mexico are possible opponents. Iona will play at Madison Square Garden for the second straight season when it takces on Rutgers in at the Holiday Festival on December 8. Fordham will take on St. John’s in the other game.
Next up on Iona’s non-conference slate is a trip to Georgia on December 15 to take on the Bulldogs. The Gales return home on December 18 in a Bracketbusters return game to face Liberty. Iona plays at La Salle on December 20, home versus Norfolk State on December 23 and on the road against St. Joe’s on December 28.
Iona’s will play at St. Bonaventure on December 28. The Bonnies made the NCAA Tournament last year after winning the Atlantic-10 Tournament. Iona’s final non-conference game of the season will be in an ESPN Bracketbuster in February.
“It was proven by our performance last year that a strong schedule is extremely important when it comes down to selection into the NCAA tournament,” Cluess added. “Although we’re not on the road for as long, it is still very demanding and we look to learn how we stack up against our quality opponents.”