Iowa State vs Pittsburgh March Madness Betting Preview: Clones Dancing Again
Pitt Riding Momentum of First Four Win into Round of 64
NCAA Tournament first-round play continues Friday with No. 6 seed Iowa State vs No. 11 seed Pittsburgh in Greensboro, N.C. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. on truTV. The winner will advance to play either No. 3 seed Xavier or No. 14 seed Kennesaw State in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Sunday.
Iowa State opened as a 4-point favorite and is -175 on the moneyline. The over/under is 131.
Iowa State Cyclones: ‘Clones dancing again
Iowa State is making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 22nd all-time. Last season, the Cyclones advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed and lost to 10th-seeded Miami. The school has made the Elite Eight twice and reached the Final Four in 1944.
How They Got Here
Iowa State cracked the Associated Press Top 25 in November following a 5-0 start and stayed there for much of the season, climbing as high as No. 11 in the poll.
The Cyclones were fifth in the country in Quad 1 wins with 10, including three victories over No. 2 seed Baylor. It was a product of being in the Big 12, which separated itself as the strongest conference in the country this season.
With marquee victories over Texas and Kansas also on their ledger, the Cyclones didn’t have to worry about their NCAA Tournament fate come Selection Sunday. At 19-13, including 9-9 in conference play, they were safely in the field. The Cyclones are coming off a loss to Kansas in the Big 12 semifinals.
How Far Will They Go
Well, for starters, the Cyclones should get past Pittsburgh. The field looks challenging after that, with third-seeded Xavier potentially waiting in the wings, but there’s no doubt the Cyclones are battle-tested. They’ve played a whopping 21 games against Quad 1 opponents, boasting a 10-11 record, including nine ranked wins. NCAA March Madness odds have them listed at +180 to reach the Sweet 16.
Pittsburgh Panthers: Moving on
Pittsburgh made the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time since 2015-16, when it lost in the first round to Wisconsin. It’s also the school’s first trip under Jeff Capel, the ACC Coach of the Year.
How They Got Here
Pittsburgh edged fellow No. 11 seed Mississippi State 60-59 on Tuesday in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. It was the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2014, when it beat Colorado before falling in the round of 32 to Florida. The Panthers are now 23-11 overall.
How Far Will They Go
It’s all gravy from here, isn’t it? The Panthers — picked to finish 14th out of 15 schools in the ACC preseason poll — have already smashed expectations. This year has been a wild success. Obviously, they can beat Iowa State. The Panthers do have a tendency to keep games close. They’re an impressive 23-10-1 against the spread this season. But will they? Iowa State vs Pittsburgh may be an uphill battle for Capel and Co.
Handicapping The Game
Realistically, Iowa State vs Pittsburgh should be a showcase of the Big 12’s might. The Cyclones played the country’s fourth-toughest schedule, according to KenPom, and still managed to win 19 games. The team’s biggest strength is its defense.
The Cyclones allowed the fewest points in the Big 12 and forced over 16 turnovers a game. That could prove problematic for the Panthers. Then again, they executed effectively at times against a stingy defense in Mississippi State.
The Panthers sank eight 3-pointers in the first half and scored when it mattered most. Jamarius Burton’s floater in the lane with 10 seconds left made the difference. Colgate transfer Nelly Cummings led the Panthers with 15 points.
Clouding Pittsburgh’s chances moving forward is the health of center Federiko Federiko. The 6-foot-11 sophomore from Finland sat out the First Four game with knee soreness, per the college basketball injuries report, and his availability for Friday remains uncertain. Federiko is averaging 7.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks and would give the Panthers some much-needed length against Iowa State.
The Cyclones are led by senior guards Jaren Holmes and Gabe Kalscheur. The duo has combined to average 26.3 points, accounting for more than a third of the team’s scoring. They’ll need to be at their best for the Cyclones to avoid an upset.
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