men’s basketball head coach Tim Cluess announced his 2012-13 November and December schedule today. The release features the Maroon & Gold's non-conference and two early MAAC games. Highlighted by its trip to Charlotte Amalie, USVI and the Paradise Jam, the Gaels will take on 12 non-conference opponents this season.
The list of opponents and potential foes in this season include four NCAA tournament teams, two NIT participants and two squads that played in the CBI and CIT.
“We once again look forward to a very challenging non-conference schedule this season,” said Cluess. “Each game puts us against a formidable opponent as we prepare for league play and a run at the MAAC Championship.”
“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.”
The Gaels open their season on Nov. 9 at the Hynes Athletics Center and complete a home-and-home series with Denver, one of the newest members of the Western Athletic Conference. It will be the second meeting between the two squads after the Gaels stunned the Pioneers 80-78 in overtime last season in Denver. The Nov. 9 date will be the earliest the program has ever started a season, one day earlier than its 2007 home opener at Robert Morris.
Iona continues action the next weekend, taking on the Northeast Conference’s Quinnipiac University at the Paradise Jam on Nov. 16. The two teams meet for the first time in a regular season contest. The past two seasons, the Gaels and Bobcats participated in a closed scrimmage as they prepared for their respective seasons. Quinnipiac was 18-14 overall last season and participated in the College Basketball Invitational after falling to LIU Brooklyn in the NEC semifinal.
The Maroon & Gold’s third contest of the season will take place on Nov. 17 or 18 bearing the result of its contest vs. Quinnipiac. Iona is set to face either Connecticut or Wake Forest in its second game at the Paradise Jam. The Gaels are 1- 3 all-time vs. UConn having last faced the Huskies on Dec. 27, 2009. All four previous meetings have come on Connecticut’s home floor. Iona has never faced Wake Forest. The Gaels are 4-17 all-time vs. ACC squads after defeating Maryland last season in their Puerto Rico Tipoff finale. The third game at the Paradise Jam is set to take place on Nov. 19. George Mason, Illinois-Chicago, Mercer and New Mexico are potential opponents. Iona is 1-0 all-time vs. UIC and New Mexico, 0-2 vs. George Mason and has never faced Mercer.
Next, the Gaels return stateside for two MAAC games. The program's conference home opener will be against Niagara on Nov. 28 at the Hynes Center. A week later, the team travels to Jersey City, NJ to take on Saint Peter's (Dec. 5).
The next non-conference tilt features a Madison Square Garden matchup with Rutgers in the annual Holiday Festival on Dec. 8. The game is part of a doubleheader that features Fordham and St. John’s in the other contest. Iona is 1-2 all-time vs. the Scarlet Knights as the two teams square off at MSG for the first time. Rutgers took the last meeting between the two teams on Dec. 16, 2006.
The Maroon & Gold then travels to Athens, GA to take on the University of Georgia on Dec. 15. The Gaels face the Bulldogs for the first time. Iona last faced an SEC opponent on Dec. 31, 2007 at Vanderbilt. The Gaels are 4-17 all-time vs. the SEC with their last win coming on Dec. 20, 1985 vs. Florida at the Rebel Roundup in Las Vegas, NV.
The season shifts back home to the Hynes Center on Dec. 18 in a Bracketbusters series return matchup against Liberty. The Gaels topped the Flames on Feb. 19, 2011 in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty has dropped both matchups between the two squads and makes its first trip to New Rochelle since 1997.
Iona makes its first of two trips to Philadelphia on Dec. 20 against La Salle. The two teams will face each other for the first time since the Explorers left the MAAC after the 1991-92 season. La Salle holds a 13-6 all-time series advantage and is 7-2 on its home floor.
The Gaels’ final non-conference home game squares them off against Norfolk State on Dec. 23. The Spartans reached the NCAA Tournament third round last season after a stunning upset of No. 2 seed Missouri this past March. Iona swept a home-and-home series with Norfolk State in 2009 and 2010.
The Maroon & Gold completes the 2012 portion of its schedule with two road contest against Atlantic-10 opponents. Saint Joseph’s is first on the agenda as the two teams complete a home-and-home series on Dec. 28. The Gaels survived two overtimes in an epic 104-99 win over the Hawks at the Hynes Center last season.
Iona’s final contest before heading into 2013 MAAC play is at Saint Bonaventure on Dec. 31. The two teams face each other for the first time since 2004 with the Gaels taking a 73-49 win at in New Rochelle. The Bonnies – who earned an NCAA tournament bid with a solid run through the A-10 tournament championship in 2012 – hold a 10-4 series advantage over the Gaels. St. Bonaventure is 5-0 in Olean.
For the eighth straight season, the Gaels will participate in ESPN’s Bracketbusters event. Iona has been selected to appear in one of the event’s TV contests in each of the last three seasons, earning victories over William & Mary, Liberty and Nevada. This year’s Bracketbusters weekend is Feb. 22-24.
For the complete season, go here.