The most anticipated game of the MAAC basketball season will be played on Jan. 15 in New Rochelle when preseason favorite Iona hosts media darling Monmouth at the Hynes Athletic Center. The league announced Monday that the game will be scheduled for 9 p.m. and broadcast live on ESPNU.
The game was flexed into the prime broadcasting window as part of the MAAC’s wildcard agreement with ESPN, which selects marquee games to appear on its networks on select dates. (Quinnipiac will host Siena on ESPN3 the same night.)
Iona was picked by the league’s coaches to finish first, but has been hampered by injuries. Still, the Gaels will enter their game with Quinnipiac on Jan. 2 tied for first place at 2-0. They are expected to have star A.J. English back from hand surgery and could also welcome the return of forward Kelvin Amayo, who has been out since the season opener with knee soreness.
Monmouth is just 1-1 in MAAC play, but it entered Monday off to the best start of any team in the league. The Hawks, who lost 95-77 to Iona in the 2015 MAAC tournament semifinals, are 9-3 with non-conference wins over Georgetown, UCLA, USC and nationally-ranked Notre Dame.
The team’s bench celebrations have attracted national attention — highlighted by an appearance on the Today show — but there has been plenty of substance behind the style. On the strength of multiple high-major wins, Monmouth received 11 votes in the most recent AP poll.