NCAA Tournament Picks: Iowa vs. Gonzaga

Ross Benjamin

Sunday, March 22, 2015 12:23 PM GMT

Join this experienced handicapper as he breaks down Sunday’s NCAA Tournament game between Iowa and Gonzaga. Can Iowa pull off the upset in this spot? Find out what our top pick is.

Hawkeyes look to Upset Bulldogs in Seattle
The #2 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs (33-2) will be tested today by the #7 seed Iowa Hawkeyes (22-11) on Sunday in the third round of the South Region. The opening tip is slated for 7:10 PM ET and the game takes place in Seattle, Washington. According to the NCAA Tournament betting odds at Bovada, Gonzaga is a 6.5 point favorite, and the posted total is 137.0.

 

Impressive Start to “Big Dance” for Iowa
The Iowa Hawkeyes turned in a dominating performance in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament with an 83-52 blowout win over #10 Davidson. Needless to say, the Hawkeyes covered with the utmost ease as a 2.5 point favorite, and the contest stayed under the total of 145.5. Iowa continued their string of games exhibiting terrific defensive play. They held a Davidson team that averages 79.0 points per game to their lowest to their lowest scoring output of the season, and also limited the Wildcats to a paltry 33.3% shooting from the field. It was the eighth consecutive game in which Iowa had held an opponent to less than 40% from the field. It’s by no coincidence, the Hawkeyes have gone a very profitable 7-1 SU&ATS in those contests.

 

Lackluster Performance in Second Round
Contrary to their opponent today, the Gonzaga Bulldogs got off to an inauspicious start to the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Gonzaga was never able to pull away from #15 seed North Dakota State in an 86-76 win. The Bulldogs led by 13 at the half, and quickly increased the lead to 18 early in the second half. They then were arguably outplayed by the less talented Bison the rest of the way. In doing so, they failed to cover as a 17.0 point favorite. By the way, that’s the same North Dakota State team that was hammered at Iowa earlier this season 87-56. On a positive note, it was the fourth consecutive game that Gonzaga had shot 51% or better from the field, and incredibly they’ve accomplished that feat in fifteen of their previous twenty-one games.

 

Final Analysis
One of the keys in today’s game will be who will win the battle on the boards. Both teams have been dominant in that area this season. The Bulldogs have a huge front line, and in the vast majority of games this year were expected to have a wide edge on the glass. However, they’ll be tested today in that area versus an Iowa team that’s held a combined 171-121 rebounding edge in their previous four games.

If Iowa is to have a realistic chance of pulling the upset today, they’ll have to continue their recent stifling defensive performances. They’ll be facing an opponent (Gonzaga) that’s shooting a terrific 52.4% from the field this season, and that ranks best in the nation.

My feeling is that Iowa will be able to more than hold their own on the boards versus Gonzaga. The Hawkeyes will be very hard pressed to continue their run of games of holding opponents to less than 40% shooting from the floor. Contrarily, Gonzaga will also have a difficult time coming even close to their ridiculously good shooting percentage they’ve attained this year. At the end of the day, there’s just too much value for me to pass up on the underdog in this spot, and that’s where my money will go when making my NCAA Tournament picks on Sunday.

NCAA Tournament Picks: Play on Iowa +6.5 at BetOnline