East Region

Friday, March 28th 7:25 PM EST on TNT

7 Connecticut Huskies vs. 3 Iowa State Cyclones

Game Line: Iowa State +1.5 Game Total: 147.5 (from JustBet)

 

Two of the more exciting players will match up on Friday night when DeAndre Kane and the Iowa State Cyclones take on Shabazz Napier and the UConn Huskies.

UConn is coming off a 77-65 win over second seeded Villanova. UConn is definitely a sleeper that no one is talking about, and the play off Shabazz Napier is reminiscent of former UConn alum Kemba Walker, who led his squad to the NCAA title back in 2011. Not many realize they are the last team to hand Florida a loss back in early December. The Huskies are averaging 71.9 ppg while shooting 44.8% from the field and have a 1.08 assist to turnover ratio. They can light it up beyond the arc as well, hitting 39.2% of their 3-point attempts. They are decent on the glass, averaging 35.4 rebounds per contest, and ranked 2nd in their conference in defensive rebounding. They have a dominant defensive presence in the paint with 7’0″ freshman Amida Brima, who is averaging 2.42 blocked shots per game. Teams don’t shoot well against them either, as they are one of the better teams in terms of defensive field goal percentage limiting opponents to 38.9% shooting.

Iowa State advanced to the sweet 16 by defeating North Carolina 85-83. DeAndre Kane game made a layup with 1.6 seconds left to seal the victory for the Cyclones. Kane was nothing short of spectacular that game contributing with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. It was their first game without their forward third leading scorer Georges Niang, who had averaged 16.7 ppg. Niang went down with a foot injury in the second round win over NC Central. Iowa State is one of the best offensive teams in the country, averaging 82.9 ppg while shooting 47.1% from the field. The Cyclones are also 1st in the nation in assists 18.5 and have a 1.75 assist to turnover ratio, 2nd best in the nation. The Cyclones are also terrific on the glass, averaging 38.3 per game and ranking 2nd in the nation in defensive rebounding as well.

On paper and just looking at the stats, one would probably think that Iowa State would have no problem with UConn. I actually like UConn is this spot though and I’m backing them on Friday night. Iowa State definitely has the talent on the offensive end, but their defense is a major issue. The Cyclones are giving up 74.2 ppg this season, and are ranked 105th in the nation in defensive efficiency. I also look at the injury to Niang. Usually the first game after an injury to an important player, the team will rally around one another and put forth a focused effort. The next game however, they come out a bit flat more often than not. UConn might not be the flashiest team, and even though they are no longer in the Big East, they still bring a physical style of play that could give Iowa State problems. The Cyclones might look like the better rebounding team, yet these teams are extremely close in terms of rebounding margin. The matchup between Kane and Napier should be a classic, but ultimately I think UConn takes this one. I expect UConn to control the tempo, and I think it will be apparent that they are the more balanced team on both ends of the floor.

 

UConn Huskies vs. Iowa State Hawkeyes Free NCAABB Pick: UConn +1.5 Under 147.5

UConn Huskies vs. IowaState Hawkeyes Game Prediction: UConn 67 IowaState 65

 

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