Better Defense Makes Virginia -5 The NCAA Tournament Pick vs. Iowa State

Charles Stark

Friday, March 25, 2016 10:18 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 25, 2016 10:18 AM UTC

Offense meets defense when Iowa State takes on Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Iowa State has been one of the top scoring teams all season but NCAA Tournament odds favor the tough defense of Virginia.  

Betting Odds
Oddsmakers have come out making Virginia a -5 favorite like at Pinnacle at -104 NCAA Tournament odds. I really like Tony Bennett and this Virginia team so for one of my NCAA Tournament picks I will back them minus the points although it seems like a big number against a good Iowa State team.


Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State averages 82.1 points per game at which ranks 13th in the country and averages 62 field-goal attempts per game which ranks 25th out of all NCAA teams. This season this team has been all about offense and across the board the Cyclones have been very good in putting the ball in the basket. On the season they ranked third, fourth, and fifth, in overall shooting percentage, two point percentage, and effective field-goal percentage respectively in the country. As well, they average 31.2 field goals made per game which ranks first in the country.

The issue for them has been on the other side of the ball where they rank well outside of the top hundred teams in most defensive categories. A lot of their lack of defense is directly proportional to the tempo they allow as opponents averaged 64.5 field-goal attempts per game and make 28.1 those which ranks the Cyclones as one of the worst in the country in these categories. I have a lot of trouble seeing them advance against a Virginia team that is  so good on the defensive end. I think the oddsmakers have it right and there is a reason why they don't have this NCAA Tournament game at a coin toss.


Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia allows opponents only 59.5 points per game which ranks second in the country and only allow 9.8 assists per game which ranks fourth. I've written and talked about their pack line defense on several occasions this season and it is extremely difficult to crack. The principles are pretty simple get out and contest shots, cut off the driving lanes, don't allow rebounds, and control tempo. Virginia seems to be able to impose their will on teams most of the time and they limit pace as well as anyone.

On the season the Cavaliers rank fifth in both allowing opponents an average of just 49.7 field-goal attempts per game and with teams only making 20.8 of those attempts. They also lead the nation allowing just 28.2 opponent rebounds per game. On top of all this is that Virginia is also a very efficient offensive team ranking seventh, ninth, and 15th in overall shooting percentage, three point shooting percentage and shooting efficiency respectively. Their defense could make this a long night for Iowa State and I anticipate for Virginia to win this game by close to double digits.

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NCAA Tournament Pick: Virginia -5 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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