The North Carolina Central Eagles are making their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history. This is a very special moment for the university, but is it a moment that will last beyond one game? The Iowa State Cyclones hope to spoil the party and limit the Eagles to only one night in the spotlight. Where does the best value lie for our NCAA tournament picks?

The Eagles can win because...

They're probably going to have more pure fun than any other team in the whole tournament in the second round. North Carolina Central had never made the NCAA tournament before and so when the Eagles finally removed that oppressive burden from their backs, they were able to celebrate and release their emotions. Coaches, players, administrators, fans, and everyone else associated with the program has been able to absorb the thrill of a lifetime.

Image previewThis is exactly the kind of situation that brings about a fully confident kind of team, one that will not only take lots of chances but do so with the full belief that it can execute a game plan and make it work without fail. North Carolina Central is playing with house money in this game, and that's always the most dangerous kind of team to play if you're a third-seeded team such as Iowa State. That’s why the Eagles are worth a look for your NCAA basketball picks.

The Cyclones can win because...

They are clearly the far more skilled and talented team on the floor. The thing to notice about Iowa State, which is why this team is so good and so capable of making a deep run in the brackets, is that it is not a one-person team. It's true that Melvin Ejim is Iowa State's best player, a high-energy scorer and rebounder who is so hard to deal with near the basket. However, Ejim is joined by a crafty scorer in the form of Georges Niang and a jump-through-the-roof athletic specimen named DeAndre Kane. Iowa State can attack from so many different angles on offense. If you try to contain just one or two players, there are other guys who can and will score. North Carolina Central is going to have a really hard time figuring out how to play Iowa State on a general level, but the Eagles are going to have even more trouble in terms of keeping the Cyclones away from the rim. There's no one powerful enough on the NCCU roster that can stand in the way of the basket and deny Iowa State ball handlers on their way to the hoop.

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Outlook & Pick

Having seen Iowa State run through a very tough Big 12 Conference this past weekend in the conference tournament, it is hard to see how North Carolina Central can play defense against the Cyclones. Iowa State who should run away with this game and cover the NCAA basketball odds.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Iowa State -9 at 5Dimes