Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Iowa State vs. Notre Dame

Darin Zank

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 6:03 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 6:03 PM GMT

In what looks like it should be a good, evenly-matched “second round” West Regional game the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Cyclones of Iowa State get together Friday night in Dayton (9:45 pm ET, CBS).


As with most eight-vs.-nine seed games, this matchup involves a short pointspread, because there's a case to be made for both teams advancing.

Can Notre Dame shoot its way to a victory? Or can ISU throw a blanket on those plans? And which way might we go with our money on this game?

Irish-Cyclones Betting Lines 

Most online sportsbooks we consulted early this week opened this game at a pick 'em, or with Notre Dame favored by a point, with the OVER/UNDER listed at 140. Most NCAA basketball odds shops have since bumped the Irish to -1.5. 

According to the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com the Irish should be favored by a point and a half for this game. How about that?

[gameodds]14/225024/43/us[/gameodds]

Irish-Cyclones Preview

Notre Dame went 12-1 through its non-conference slate, then won its first two Big East games for a 14-1 start. The Irish then went 9-7 from there, losing back-to-back games just once this season.

Notre Dame then won two games in the Big East tournament before falling to eventual champion Louisville. 

By collecting victories over six tournament-bound teams – Cincinnati, Villanova, Louisville, Pitt, Cincy again and Marquette - and going 13-8 in Big East games, the Irish earned themselves a fourth-straight trip to the Big Dance, in the form of a seven seed

Notre Dame also beat decent teams like BYU, Kentucky and Purdue, but also lost four games to teams that didn't make the tournament. 

The Irish start two seniors and two juniors, and each of their five starters average better than 29 minutes per game. 

Iowa State went 10-3 through its non-conference slate, but after an iffy stretch into February the Cyclones' post-season status became uncertain. ISU snapped out of its mini-funk, though, to win five of its last seven games, and beat Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference tournament before losing to Kansas.

With wins over tournament-bound teams Southern, Florida Gulf Coast, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, and by going 12-8 in Big 12 games the Cyclones earned themselves a second consecutive NCAA at-large bid, this time in the form of a 10 seed.

ISU also beat decent teams like BYU and Baylor (twice), and of its 11 losses eight came against teams that made the 2013 NCAA Tournamet, like Cincinnati and UNLV. The Cyclones also got robbed by the zebras in a home loss to Kansas.

Iowa State starts three seniors and a junior, and their first guy off the bench is senior Tyrus McGee, who's averaging 14 PPG.

Irish-Cyclones, Statistically Speaking

Iowa State is shooting 46 percent from the field this season, 37 percent from 3-point land and 73 percent from the free-throw line. At the other end of the court the Cyclones are holding opponents to less than 43 percent shooting, and they're out-rebounding foes by better than seven per game.

Notre Dame is shooting 46 percent from the floor, 37 percent from long range and 71 percent from the line. The Irish are also holding foes to 42 percent FG shooting, and out-boarding opponents by seven per game.

Irish-Cyclones Betting Trends

Iowa State is a lop-sided 20-4 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Cyclones games have averaged 151 PPG.

Notre Dame is 15-13 on the totals, as Irish games have averaged 134 points.

ISU is 10-5 ATS over its last 15 games.

Five of Notre Dame's last six games have played OVER on the totals.

Free NCAA Tournament Pick

This game is a tough one; by almost every measure we could find these two teams are evenly matched. In a situation like this we'd usually place our free picks on the underdog and take the points, but the line is so small it doesn't really matter. So instead we'll go with the team with the better record, the team that played in the tougher conference, and the higher seed.

Free Picks: Take the Irish at the -1 point offered at Bovada.

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