On the surface, this looks like a non-conference mismatch for the more casual observer than college basketball handicappers from the brand name perspective. Ultimately, this could be an intriguing matchup.
Add in Kevin Ware who suffered the gruesome leg injury for Louisville in their title run and 6’9 senior Curtis Washington, and this team should be on anybody’s radar for college basketball picks as an underdog.
Iowa State Reloads For another Season
The Cyclones (28-8, 17-16-1 ATS) made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament a year ago, before being ousted by eventual champion Connecticut 81-76, but lost that contest being at a severe disadvantage not one of its top three players in Georges Niang, who was hurt in the Round of 32 victory over North Carolina. Two key components need to be replaced by Iowa State in Big 12 POY: Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane, but head coach Fred Hoiberg has established himself as a top notch coach in identifying player strengths and developing them and creating chemistry quickly with his squads.
This year, besides Naing, fellow forward Dustin Hogue and point guard Monte Morris are back. Morris stands out because of how well he protects the ball, having a remarkable 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio as a true freshman, with 28 turnovers in 36 games.
Hoiberg has chosen to go the transfer route to quickly rebuild teams, finding players with tremendous versatility and hunger to prove their old schools wrong. A few of the transfers will not be eligible until the end of the first semester, but Bryce Dejean-Jones has already made an immediate impact with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the opening 92-83 non-cover over Oakland U.
Betting Odds and Head to Head Meetings
The sportsbooks sent Iowa State out as nine-point favorites over Georgia State. These teams have never met previously, but the Cyclones are 0-6 against the college basketball odds at the Hilton Coliseum after surrendering 80 or more points.
What to Look for Tonight
Iowa State loves to push the tempo and create mismatches coming down the floor to get open three-point looks. Their halfcourt offense is predicated on dribble-drive penetration, which results in shots in the paint, fouls drawn or passes to long-range shooters.
Georgia State also prefers the fast pace, but can get out of control making bad judgments in shot selection. The Panthers will have to be ready for a physical style in an around the basket and not allow Iowa State to make that first 20-30 foot pass that initiates their fast break.
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The Winner Is...
I expect Hoiberg to have several good teaching moments from their opener, as Oakland U. shot 51.7 percent. Yet in the end, Iowa State has more talent overall to win, but I would not be afraid to take the nine-points with Georgia State who can compete especially early in the season and has the confidence from last year to build on.
This contest is set for 9:00 EST on ESPNU.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick – Georgia State covers