(3) Iowa State v. (14) UAB
Time: 12:40 PM ET
Spread: IOW -14
Betting odds c/o Bovada
No. 3 seeded Iowa State finished the regular season 25-8 and notched a 12-6 record in the Big 12, while impressively knocking off Kansas in the Championship by a tally of 70-66. It will try to parlay that momentum into a big second round win against the UAB Blazers. Early college basketball odds at Bovada showed the Cyclones as 14-point favorites over UAB with an over/under set at 145. The game will air at 12:40 PM EDT on TruTV.
Iowa St. excels offensively. The Cyclones ranked 14th in the nation in scoring with 78.4 points per contest and assisted on 16 shots per game. Impressively, the team closed the regular season with five straight wins, two of which came over No. 15 Oklahoma and the last against the Jayhawks. In the win over KU, Georges Niang came through with 19 points on 9 of 18 shoting while also collecting five boards, a steal and a block. Three other Cyclones finished in double-figures, though the team shot just 43 percent from the floor in the victory. In the second half, Iowa St. outscored Kansas heftily however, 47-29. The real knock on the shooting was mostly due to an inability to connect on the three, as it hit just 2 of 16 from behind the arc. Even so, teams can win a lot of games by coming up with 11 offensive rebounds while turning the ball over just six times.
Niang is just one of five Iowa State players to average more than 10 points per game, but the 6’8” junior forward leads the way with 15.5 per. Over his past five games, he has scored 19 or more in all but one of them, while having put together a particularly impressive game in the first victory over Oklahoma on Mar 2. He shot 8 of 14 for 23 points, while also collecting eight boards and dropping four assists. As a talented forward, he’s actually averaged 3.5 assists per game, which should give Niang a lot of value to NBA clubs looking for a playmaker off the bench.
Sophomore guard Monte Morris also put together a nice season for the Cyclones, averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 assists per game this season. He’s seen an uptick in every major statistical category from his freshman campaign, and while he wasn’t overly impressive in the last two victories, he obliterated Texas in the 69-67 victory on Mar 12, hitting 9 of 15 from the floor for 24 points while also coming up with five steals. He’s had two steals or more in his past four games, and should be able to create some defensive havoc that will help rattle the Blazers’ guards.
UAB finished the regular season 19-15 with a 12-6 mark in Conference USA play. The Blazers took the conference title by defeating Middle Tennessee 73-60, behind 22 points and four assists from guard Robert Brown. UAB shot 51 percent from the floor while holding the Blue Raiders to just 41.9 percent shooting and UAB held a plus-11 advantage on the glass. Brown has been the Blazers’ best offensive talent by a good bit this season as the only player to average over eight points per game even. His 13.1 points per game come at a cost, however, since he shoots under 40 percent from the floor and just 31 percent from three-point range.
Moreover, he’s turning the ball over 2.1 times per game while assisting just three, not an especially good mark given that Morris is going to be all over him to force those turnovers, as mentioned. Given that the Cyclones have its strongest defender at the position of greatest offensive strength for the Blazers, there’s no reason to expect this spread to be inaccurate. UAB is likely going to fall by double-digits, though if Iowa State goes frigid from distance this game could be closer than expected. It just likely won’t happen.