Iona, Manhattan will battle for MAAC lead

Iona (18-5, 10-2) and Manhattan (17-7, 10-2) will play for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Saturday night, in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale.

You can watch the game via ESPN3 -- and the game is well worth watching.

Iona was the preseason favorite in the MAAC, under second-year coach Tim Cluess. The Gaels finished second in the MAAC last year, and were upset in the conference championship game by St. Peter's.

The big surprise is Manhattan, under first-year coach Steve Masiello. The Jaspers were 6-25 a season ago, but Masiello has engineered the most dramatic turnaround in Division I this season, with largely the same players.

Manhattan took these teams' first meeting of the season, 75-72 at Iona on Jan. 12.

The winner will take a big step in the MAAC -- although don't sleep on Loyola (MD), which is also 10-2 in the conference.