Iona making name for itself

Jan 1, 2002 1:15 AM

At first glance, Iona is often mistaken in print for Iowa. Some even think it is Iowa and that a typographical error was made.

Actually the error was made by Seton Hall, which lost to Iona, 73-70. The Gaels have undergone one of the more remarkable turnarounds in recent years. Iona opened the season at 0-6 straight-up, but has since won five of its last seven.

Iona is 4-1 against the spread since a home loss Dec. 1 to Hofstra as a 2½-point dog, 67-54.

How significant was this win over Seton Hall, a Big East team. Well, the Pirates lost to top-ranked Duke by one point Nov. 19 in Hawaii.

Does that mean Iona is better than Duke? No way, but it does indicate that teams are able to use the non-conference portion of their schedule to work out the problems and prepare for the conference season, which begins for most leagues Jan. 3.

Gem of the Ivy

Through 12 games, Columbia has shown that the Ivy League race may involve more than just Penn and Princeton.

The Lions went out to Pauley Pavilion as 21½-point underdogs and made believers of UCLA during a 64-55 setback last Thursday.

UCLA blew a 22-point lead in the second half as Columbia outscored the Bruins 22-7 to pull within 57-52 with 2:58 left. Treg Duerksen tied a school record with seven 3-point field goals.

Columbia was in the 10th day of a 15-day road trip that will cover 11,000 miles. Such lightly-regarded teams often have to make such sacrifices in order to recoup enough money to keep the program going at the Division I level.

The Lions have only played three games that books have offered lines. Columbia also had a nice cover against Providence, losing 68-54 as a 20-point road underdog.

Columbia ended its West Coast trip Monday night at San Diego State before opening Ivy League play Jan. 11 at Yale. At 7-5, the Lions could be worth a look at a live dog.

Duck an Oregon trip

Oregon is unranked, but may be the nation’s toughest team to beat on its home floor.

The Ducks are 6-0 both SU and ATS, including Pac 10 wins over Arizona and Arizona State. Oregon’s 30-point blowout of Arizona will carry a lot of weight if the Ducks wind up a bubble team the day the NCAA tourney bids go out.

Oregon also beat Louisville at home by 27 and Pepperdine by 24.