Rick Pitino Says Iona Is A ‘Sleeping Giant,’ Wants To Model Program After Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s

Rick Pitino believes he can turn Iona College into the Gonzaga or the Saint Mary’s of the East Coast.

OK, maybe not Gonzaga, which is the No. 1 team in the nation, but Saint Mary’s for sure.

“I have to learn the [MAAC], but I do think Iona is a sleeping giant,” Pitino, the Naismith Hall of Fame coach who led Kentucky and Louisville to NCAA titles but was fired from Louisville in 2017 after several scandals, told the New York Post this week. “And I judge that by some of the guys I can recruit now. I do believe in the Gonzaga model of recruiting, the St. Mary’s model of recruiting, that 40 to 50 percent of your team has to be foreign players.

“I don’t know if we can do a Gonzaga, but I know we can do a St. Mary’s, and I know we can build it to become one of the strongest programs on the East Coast. But that’s going to take great recruiting and meticulous player development, and those two things I think we’re off to a great start.”

Pitino, 68, will have to adjust to coaching in a one-bid league in the MAAC, where you generally have to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. In his previous stints in the SEC and Big East, multiple teams made the Big Dance as at-large bids.

Under former coach Tim Cluess, the Gaels won the MAAC Tournament five times and made six NCAA Tournament appearances but never won a single game in the Big Dance because they were always a double-digit seed.

As far as recruiting internationally the way Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have done, Iona brought in an eight-man class for Pitino’s first year at the school, and he actually said in October the COVID-19 pandemic helped his staff recruit.

“If it wasn’t for COVID, we couldn’t have brought in the largest recruiting class in my history as a basketball coach…because if everybody was allowed to visit different places, we couldn’t get eight guys, one from Germany, one from Sweden, one from Rwanda, Nigeria, New York, North Carolina, Florida,” he said in a Zoom interview with Vin Parise.

“They just had to make a decision. I think six out of the eight did not know where Iona was, what county or what state it was in. So COVID helped us in recruiting. And so not only did we look at the glass half full, we looked at filling it up right away.”

Now Pitino just has to get his team on the court to play some more games.

The Gaels have had six games canceled already this

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Gonzaga vs. West Virginia odds, line: 2020 Jimmy V Classic picks, predictions from proven computer model

The 2020 Jimmy V Classic features four teams ranked in the top 11 of the current AP Top 25 and the action will begin on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis when the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers. Both teams enter on impressive winning streaks with Gonzaga winning its last six games dating back to last season and West Virginia winning its last five in a row. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and it should be an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles.

Gonzaga runs an incredibly efficient offense full of capable shot makers and creators, while West Virginia plays typically tough defense under Bob Huggins. The Bulldogs are favored by 8.5-points with the over-under for total points at 153.5 in the latest Gonzaga vs. West Virginia odds from William Hill SportsBook. Before you make any West Virginia vs. Gonzaga picks, check out the college basketball predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every college basketball game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated an impressive profit of almost $2,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread. It’s also off to a fast start in the 2020-21 season, going 4-1 on its top-rated picks and returning over $300. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Gonzaga vs. West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic 2020. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the college basketball lines and trends for Gonzaga vs. West Virginia:

  • Gonzaga vs. West Virginia spread: Gonzaga -8.5
  • Gonzaga vs. West Virginia over-under: 153.5 points
  • Gonzaga vs. West Virginia money line: Gonzaga -440, West Virginia +340
  • ZAGS: Gonzaga has covered in each of its last three games.
  • WVU: The under has hit in 11 of their last 14 games.

Latest Odds:

Bulldogs
-8.5

Why Gonzaga can cover

The Bulldogs began their season with big wins over Kansas and Auburn to solidify themselves as the top team in the country and they’ve averaged a stunning 96.0 points per game despite the competition level. Sophomore forward Drew Timme is averaging 26.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, while senior sharpshooter Corey Kispert is averaging 24.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.

However, perhaps the most important new element to Gonzaga’s offensive success is true freshman point guard Jalen Suggs. The No. 11 overall prospect in the Class of 2020 according to 247Sports is averaging 18.0 points, 7.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game and his ability to create shots for himself and others helps tie Gonzaga’s myriad scoring options together. Gonzaga is also 3-0-1 against the spread in four games against West Virginia in the last decade and they’ve covered their first two games by an average of 6.5 points.

Why West Virginia can cover

West Virginia knows it can’t run with Gonzaga but Huggins also has no intention of trying.

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Gonzaga vs. Kansas line, picks: Advanced computer model reveals picks for big college basketball battle

It’s a showdown of two of college basketball’s best teams when the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs face the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks in the Fort Myers Tip-off on Thanksgiving. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs are 4-point favorites in the latest Gonzaga vs. Kansas college basketball odds from William Hill Sportsbook, while the over-under is 147.5 (For the latest college basketball lines on all of the games, visit our college basketball odds page).

Before making any Gonzaga vs. Kansas picks, you MUST check out the college basketball predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college basketball game 10,000 times. Over the past four years, the proprietary computer model has generated an impressive profit of $2,400 for $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread. Anyone who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.

Now, it has broken down Gonzaga vs. Kansas, and it is leaning Under the total. It also says one side of the spread is cashing in well over 50 percent of simulations! You ABSOLUTELY have to see it before locking in any FBS college football picks of your own.

Who wins Gonzaga vs. Kansas on Thursday? And which side of the spread is hitting well over 50 percent of the time? … Join SportsLine right now to see which side of the Gonzaga vs. Kansas spread to back Friday, all from the advanced model up more than $2,400 on top-rated picks over the past four years!

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Kansas vs. Gonzaga odds, line: 2020 Fort Myers Tip-Off picks, college basketball predictions from proven model

It’s a showdown of two of college basketball’s best teams when the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs face the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks in the 2020 Fort Myers Tip-Off on Thanksgiving. The teams were hit by departures and have not played a competitive game since March, but both have the depth to rebound quickly. The teams finished 1-2 in the final Associated Press poll before last season’s NCAA Tournament was canceled, and the Bulldogs have the NCAA’s best winning percentage of the past decade at .858 (308-51), with KU second at .819 (299-66). 

Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. The Bulldogs are four-point favorites in the latest Kansas vs. Gonzaga odds at William Hill Sportsbook, and the over-under for total points scored is 147.5. Before making any Gonzaga vs. Kansas picks, check out the college basketball predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every college basketball game 10,000 times. Over the past four years, the proprietary computer model has generated an impressive profit of $2,400 for $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns. 

Now, the model has set its sights on Kansas vs. Gonzaga. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the college basketball lines and trends for Gonzaga vs. Kansas:

  • Kansas vs. Gonzaga: Bulldogs -4
  • Kansas vs. Gonzaga over-under: 147.5
  • Kansas vs. Gonzaga money line: Jayhawks +156, Bulldogs -191   
  • KAN: G Marcus Garrett averaged 1.8 steals and 4.5 deflections to win Defensive Player of the Year honors. 
  • GONZ: F Drew Timme scored at least 10 points in 15 of the 19 games when he played at least 20  minutes last season.

Why Gonzaga can cover

Gonzaga is 38-29 against the spread as a favorite the past two seasons, and Coach Mark Few has plenty of talent to work with. He expects a lot from Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 sophomore who started just four games last season but shot 62.1 percent from the field and averaged 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.5 minutes. Five-star prospect Jalen Suggs should run the point for a team that went 31-2 and had the NCAA’s best offense last season (87.4 points per game).      

The Bulldogs are 21-13 ATS in non-conference games since 2018, and Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi are back after starting last season. Kispert, a preseason All-American, led the team in minutes (33) and was second with a 13.9 scoring average, shooting 43.8 percent from 3-point range. Ayayi scored 10.6 points and brought down 6.3 rebounds per contest. In addition to Suggs, highly-touted freshmen Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther should see playing time.

Why Kansas can cover

Kansas is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games overall, and Coach Bill Self will have his team ready to play some strong defense. That should be key in a game between teams feeling things out with almost no practice time.

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