Iowa +7.5 Is Our Top NCAA Basketball Pick Despite Iowa St. Home Court Advantage

Joe Catalano

Thursday, December 10, 2015 4:50 PM GMT

We preview a very big inter-state rivalry between the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-2) and the #4 Iowa State Cyclones (7-0). See who we like as our NCAA basketball pick in this matchup.

Tip-off is scheduled for tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. This game can be seen on the ESPN 2 Network. According to 5Dimes Sportsbook, NCAA Basketball odds makers think that the Hawkeyes will give the Cyclones a run for their money as the Cyclones are a reasonable 7.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 152. What will be the best NCAA Basketball pick for tonight?

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa +7.5
Best Odds Offered By 5Dimes

 

How Ironic?
As stated, Iowa had a 31 game home winning streak against non-conference opponents last season until the Cyclones ended that and now the Cyclones have an identical 31 game winning streak at home against non-conference foes. I think this streak might be a tad more difficult to break with the likes of Georges Niang defending it and Iowa State looking for the top spot in the nation as only 3 teams remain ahead of them. Simply stated, a streak is on the line along with pride.

 

High Powered Offense
Another ironic number is 84 in that the Cyclones have won their last 3 games scoring 84 points in each of them. That really isn't the story. Although their schedule has been somewhat weak, they've been an offensive machine, scoring 83 points or more in their last 6 games which is indicative in the betting total of this game.

The Cyclones aren't a deep team as most of their points come from their starters. Their top 5 scorers all average 12.9 points or more per game led by senior forward, Georges Niang.

 

Georges Niang
Along with being able to put the ball in the hoop, Niang is a multi-faceted basketball player with substantial size. For the season, he's averaging 18.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game. Niang is also a dead eye shooter as he's averaging 53.3% from the field, 46.4% from 3-point range, and 91.3% from the free throw line.

If this game were to be close, the Cyclones, who are a 64.4% free throw shooting team would want the ball in the hands of Niang. He's played at a high level throughout his collegiate career, therefore I'm not concerned with the lack of difficulty regarding Iowa State's schedule up until now. Look for Niang to have a huge game.

 

Elite Personnel
Let's also not forget to mention junior point guard, Monte Morris. Morris can play both ends of the court and fill up a stat sheet like no other at just 6 foot 2 and slight in frame. Morris is averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals per game. Add in double-double man, Jameel McKay, and this is a team that appears to be unbeatable in this matchup. The only wrap that can be layed upon the Cyclones is their difficulty in schedule. Tonight, this will all change in Ames.

 

Strength of Schedule
From an Iowa perspective, they have the edge in schedule as they've beaten two quality opponents in Wichita State and Florida State and lost to a good Notre Dame team by just 6 points. They are certainly more battle-tested, and although I think Iowa State is the superior team, Iowa's one big edge in this game is strength of schedule.

The Hawkeyes don't have the talent that the Cyclones have, but they have great team depth and frequent substitutions will make the Iowa State starters work for a win.

 

Jarrod Uthoff
Clearly, at 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and shooting nearly 50% from beyond the arc, Uthoff is the one unstoppable player that will give the Cyclones trouble on defense. The senior is going out with a bang this season, look for a spot at the next level. Against ranked opponents, he's averaging 21 points, 7.5 rebounds, and has shot 17 for 31 from the field. I look for Uthoff to keep this game close enough to cover the 7.5 points despite Iowa State's strength at home.

 

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