After the Indiana Hoosiers and Wyoming Cowboys sweated out Selection Sunday, they get set to do battle in a First Four matchup of No. 12 seeds, with the winner to face Saint Mary’s in the East region. Read on for our First Four picks for the Indiana-Wyoming matchup.
Indiana (20-13, 9-11) is one of the record-tying nine Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament. However, based on the Hoosiers being pegged as one of the last four teams selected, it is evident they needed every bit of their two conference tournament wins over Michigan and Illinois to find their name in the bracket. The Hoosiers’ deep run in the Big Ten Tournament helped offset the sting of losing seven of their last nine games to end the regular season.
Wyoming (25-8, 13-5) is one of four Mountain West teams in the field, and its 25 regular-season wins are the most for the program since 1952. The Cowboys got off to a blistering 21-3 start, which resulted in their second AP Poll ranking since the 1987-88 season. However, Wyoming struggled somewhat down the stretch, winning four of its final eight games. This is the Cowboys’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.
Here are my picks and predictions for Tuesday’s college basketball First Four matchup between Indiana and Wyoming (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
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Indiana vs. Wyoming Game Info
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 15, 9:10 p.m. ET
TV: Tru TV
Location: UD Arena, Dayton, OH
Indiana vs. Wyoming Odds Analysis
Indiana opened as a 3.5-point favorite, but now all sportsbooks are in unison offering -4. The Hoosiers covered the spread in each of their last four games (all as underdogs) and are 4-2 ATS in their previous six as favorites. Wyoming covered just one of its last five games but is 8-5 ATS as an underdog and 7-4-1 ATS in 12 non-conference games. Sixty-seven percent of the betting tickets have been on the favored Hoosiers thus far but 69% of the cash is on Wyoming.
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While all sportsbooks are offering the same spread, there is much more volatility in the projected point total. DraftKings offers the lowest number at 132, while FanDuel Sportsbook and PointsBet are the highest at 133. The Over cashed in seven of Indiana’s last 10 games, while the Under cashed in eight of Wyoming’s 13 games as an underdog. There has been good two-way action on the total thus far, with 57% of the cash placed on the Under.
Indiana vs. Wyoming Picks
- Wyoming +4 (-110) ★★★
- Over 132 (-110) ★★
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Indiana vs. Wyoming Predictions
Wyoming +4 (-110)
While most college basketball teams have adapted to the dribble penetration and hoisting 3-point shots in high volume philosophy, Indiana and Wyoming will show viewers that the art of posting up is not dead. Per Synergy, Wyoming and Indiana rank first and ninth in post-up percentage, though the Cowboys do it in a much more unconventional manner.
The Cowboys will often invert their offense and put 6-foot-7 point guard Hunter Maldonado in the post against smaller defenders while surrounding him with perimeter shooters. Their bruising style of play results in frequent trips to the foul line, as 20.4% of points on average come from the free-throw line. That ranks 51st in the country.
While Indiana is used to defending the post, given the many great post players in the Big Ten, not many teams in its league post up guards as much as Wyoming will. As a result, the Hoosiers will have difficulty preparing for a unique Wyoming offense in less than 48 hours.
Wyoming’s struggles down the stretch are mainly due to Mountain West teams being more familiar with its scheme. However, the Cowboys dominated their league and non-conference competition in their first or only meetings with opponents, and they have an edge over Indiana given the unfamiliarity.
Do not let the Hoosiers’ two big wins in the Big Ten Tournament mask the fact that they struggled mightily down the stretch. Instead, we will gladly take the four points as part of a contrarian play in a game the underdogs could easily win outright.
Over 132 (-110)
Indiana is a tournament team on the backbone of a stingy defense that finished the regular season as the Big Ten’s best in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency. However, a resurgent Hoosiers offense is a big reason we think this projected total is too low.
Indiana’s offense has reached new heights based on point guard Xavier Johnson’s improved play. Johnson has an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 3:1 this month. When teams slack off of him, fearing his driving ability, Johnson has proved he can knock down perimeter shots, as he is 14-for-32 from 3-point range over his last eight games.
Given both teams’ frequent utilization of post-up offense, there is the potential we see a physical game with a lot of fouls called. As a result, it would not be a surprise to see each team attempt more free throws than usual. If key players start to get in foul trouble, they will likely begin defending with extra caution and that will lead to easy baskets late in the game.
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Indiana-Wyoming picks made 3/14/2022 at 11:02 a.m. ET.