Play Motivated Iona & 'Under' As Your Tournament Picks vs. Iowa State

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 6:29 PM GMT

Like fast-paced basketball? Then Thursday afternoon's Midwest Region matchup between No. 13 Iona and No. 4 Iowa State is for you. The Cyclones are -8 favorite NCAA basketball odds.

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Gaels' English Best Player You May Not Know
Iona (22-10) finished second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season to  Monmouth. But the Gaels upset the Hawks 79-76 in the MAAC Tournament final for their eighth straight win. Iona's star is A.J. English, and he hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:39 left to break a tie in that game. He finished with 19 points and was named the tournament's MVP. It was Iona's league-record  ninth MAAC championship. It is Iona's third trip to the NCAA Tournament in six seasons under head coach Tim Cluess. The school was last there in 2013. Iona is 1-10 all-time in the Big Dance. Monmouth got hosed not getting an at-large bid over the likes of Syracuse and Tulsa, but that's for another day.

English is going to be drafted by some NBA team this summer. The senior from Delaware is averaging 22.4 points, 6.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds and is one of two players in the country who scored 40 points or more twice this season. English is one of five finalists for the 2016 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award. English is with four players from big-time programs: Duke's Grayson Allen, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield (the Big 12 Player of the Year), Villanova's Josh Hart and Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon (the ACC Player of the Year). Last season, D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State was the inaugural winner of the award and then went No. 2 overall in the draft to the L.A. Lakers.

The Gaels didn't play any Big 12 teams this season and just one Power 5 conference school, a 93-73 loss at Oregon State, an NCAA Tournament team, on Nov. 17. Iona also lost at Tulsa 90-81.

As noted above, Iona likes to play fast. It ranks 44th in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom.com, and is 10th in the country with 26.9 3-pointers attempted per game. Five players have attempted at least 60 3-pointers this year. Iona averages 79.6 points per game, which is 31st nationally.

Iona is 16-15 against the spread this season on NCAA basketball odds and 15-16 'over/under.'

 

Cyclones Remember Last Year's Upset
Iowa State was one of the preseason favorites to win the Big 12 despite losing Coach Fred Hoiberg to the NBA's Chicago Bulls. The school hired Murray State's Steve Prohm to replace Hoiberg and I think it's fair to say the Cyclones underachieved somewhat this season with a 21-11 overall record and fifth-place finish in the regular-season standings. ISU had won the previous two Big 12 Tournament titles but lost its first game this year, 79-76 to No. 6 Oklahoma last Thursday.

The Cyclones' best player is senior forward Georges Niang, an All-Big 12 First-Team Pick.  He had 31 points on 13-for-18 shooting along with seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the loss to the Sooners. Niang, ISU’s first two-time All-American, leads the Cyclones with 19.8 points per game, which is second among Big 12 players. His 2,142 career points are third in school history and fifth in Big 12 annals. He is the only player nationally averaging at least 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent at the line.

ISU also has a tremendous guard on Monte Morris, who averages 13.9 points and a Big 12-best 6.9 assists. The Cyclones were the third-most efficient offense in the country, according to KenPom.com. They shot a stellar 50.2 percent from the field, which was No. 2 nationally.

This is Iowa State's fifth straight NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones were a No. 3 seed last year and were upset in the first round by No. 14 UAB, 60-59.

ISU is 15-13-1 ATS on NCAA basketball picks this season and 13-15-1 O/U.

 

Final Analysis
Iona's last win over a ranked team? That would be 89-72 against No. 23 Iowa State in the title game of the 2005 Cyclone Classic in Ames. That's the only meeting between these schools. I think Iowa State advances to face the No. 5 Purdue-Arkansas Little Rock winner but I'd take the points here. The Gaels are 7-1 ATS in their past eight games. That's pretty huge total so I'd go 'under.' This game is in Denver so the altitude could leave both teams rather gassed in the second half.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Iona +8  & Under 166.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker