#9 Connecticut vs. #8 Iowa State
Tip off: 9:20 PM EST
Spread: UCONN -1.5
M/L: UCONN -125, IOWA +105
UCONN has fallen off after last year’s National Championship run, but it wasn’t unexpected after losing last year’s leading scorer Kemba Walker to the NBA.
After beginning the season 5-0, the Huskies realized this might not be their year after losing to their first unranked opponent on November 25th, as they fell to the UCF Knights on November 25th. They recovered to win their next seven games, but then dropped back to back contests to Seton Hall and Rutgers. In fact, things were looking A-OK exiting non-conference play, with a 12-3 record.
Then came the rugged Big East. The Huskies won only 8 of their 18 conference games, accented by a four game losing streak (Cincinnati, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Georgetown). With so many ranked opponents in the Big East, it’s important not to get bullish on the Huskies just due to their record.
They still have a lot of talent. Jeremy Lamb is leading the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game, and he’s pretty much playing every possible minute (37.2 mpg). The sophomore has had a number of really big games this season, with five games with 25+ points. His season high of 32 points came in a 3 point overtime victory over Villanova on February 20th, as he hit 11 of 21 from the floor. Really, UCONN will go as far as Lamb takes them.
Still, there are a number of other Huskies capable of making a big difference. Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, and Andre Drummond all average double figures for the Huskies, who put up an average of 69 points per game. Drummond at one point was considered a likely top 3 pick, but his stock has fallen a little since then. He’s drawn a lot of comparisons to a young Kevin Garnett, and his athleticism alone is making him a force to be dealt with at the NCAA level. He has yet to say definitively whether or not he will enter the NBA Draft.
Huskies Betting Trends:
UCONN is 12-15 ATS in their last 27 games, but they are 18-6 ATS in their last 24 neutral court games. They are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 where the spread is set between 135 and 139.5. They are also 19-8 ATS in first round tournament games. They are 175-183 ATS as a favorite since 1997.
Iowa State held their own in the Big 12, finishing with a 12-6 conference record, while going 10-4 out of conference. They’re offense is strong (73.2 points per game) and they rebound the ball well (36.7 boards per game).
They lost 5 of their 6 games to ranked opponents this season, with the lone exception being an 8 point triumph over then ranked #5 Kansas. Prior to losing to Texas last game, they had won four of their last five, with the only loss coming to ranked Missouri.
The trio of Royce White, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Allen combine for 37.4 of the Cylcones 73 points per night, and White leads the way with 13.1 per game. White, a 6’8″ sophomore forward, also leads the team in rebounding with 9.2 boards per game. Surprisingly, in games in which White has scored 20 or more, the Cyclones are just 2-3, with the last 20 point game loss having came against Missouri, as he went 9 of 16 from the floor, playing all but 2 minutes (because he fouled out). If leading the team in scoring and rebounding wasn’t enough, White also has a team high 5.1 assists per game. It goes without saying that the Cyclones’ chance of advancing lies firmly upon his shoulders, though he must keep his teammates involved to avoid the aforementioned stat of losing games when he plays big.
Cyclones Betting Trends:
The Cyclones are 18-9 ATS in their last 27 games and 6-3 ATS when the total is 130 to 139.5. They are 13-4 ATS following a conference game, and 15-7 ATS vs teams with winning records. Since 1997, the Cyclones are 207-185 ATS.