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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Iona, which won the MAAC regular-season title but stumbled in the conference tournament, was given a bid into the NCAA tournament, and will meet BYU in the first round on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

The Gaels went 25-7, and 15-3 in the league, but lost to Fairfield, 85-75, in the league semifinals on March 4, in a defeat that many viewed as crippling for their tournament hopes.

Yet, in a surprise — perhaps the biggest in the field — Iona did land a bid, and joins tournament-champion Loyola, Md., as MAAC teams in the NCAA.

BYU finished in third place in the West Coast Conference after a 12-4 league season. The Cougars are 25-8 overall.

Tuesday's winner will play Marquette in the second round.

In an ironic twist, Iona is one of the bubble teams that made it, and very well could have taken a bid away from Seton Hall, among the more notable snubs. Just two years ago, Seton Hall, of the Big East, hired coach Kevin Willard away from Iona.

But Willard left a decent team to coach Tim Cluess in New Rochelle, and he took it from there. The Gaels last made the tournament in 2006, losing to LSU, 80-74, in the first round. At the time, they were coached by Jeff Ruland.

But now, it's Cluess' team, and his focus is squarely on the Cougars.

Cluess admitted in a conference call that he was intrigued by BYU last year, when Iona was not in the NCAA, and the Cougars — led by guard Jimmer Fredette — were.

"I was a big fan last year and the year before," Cluess said. "This year, I won't be quite as big a fan."

BYU advanced to the round of 16 last year with Fredette, the national player of the year. The Cougars no longer have Fredette, but they do have 6-9 junior forward Brandon Davies back. He missed March Madness last year after being booted from the team for an honor code violation.

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"We deserve to be in the NCAAs," BYU senior Noah Hartsock said. "I'm glad with the spot we have. You saw a lot of teams that were left out, a lot of disappointed teams. We're glad to be in."

So, too, is Iona.

The game will air on TruTV, Tuesday at 7 p.m. MDT.

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