The Iowa State Cyclones face the Iona Gaels in what the NCAA calls a Round-of-64 event, but we will keep with our belief that this game is one of 32 the next two days, and title it a Round-of-32 in this 2016 Big Dance event.
Iowa State (21-11) got a large number of points from their frontcourt star, including fouls, All-Conference big Georges Niang, in the Big 12 post-season tournament opener for the ‘Clones, losing 79-76 to Oklahoma. Niang delivered 31 points but fouled out of the contest versus the Sooners with just under 5 minutes to go in the affair, ultimately costing ISU a chance to win.
Iowa State will be up and down the court today against Iona. The Cyclones average nearly 82 points per game and can rebound with the best in Division I hoops. The Big 12 schools averages 36rebounds and do a terrific job of sharing the basketball. As a group the distribute 17 assists per game and they have had their moments this season defensively allowing under 75 points per game.
Iona (22-10) qualified for the Big Tournament with a 79-76 over Monmouth.
Iona Gaels vs Iowa State Cyclones (-7.5, 167)
Time: 2:00 PM ET, Thursday, March 17, 2016
Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
TV Coverage: CBS
Like the Cyclones, Iona likes to play to the 30 second shot clock, up-tempo. The Gaels average nearly 80 points per game and are led by AJ English and his 22.4 points per game. The Gaels are in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in six seasons under head coach Tim Cluess. These two schools share similar schemes. They both like to shoot the 3-ball and the team has three players with at least 77 made 3-pointers on the season. Jordan Washington and his 14 points and 6 rebounds per game is the key for the Gaels. He is the driving force in the paint for Iona but his Achilles is his tendency to get into foul trouble and this variable is a likely scenario today facing Niang and the ISU frontcourt. The fact that Washington averaged just over 18 minutes of court time per game this year offers evidence of just how aggressive the Gael big is.
The Cyclones can play at any tempo so the Gaels advantage against most of their league foes, playing in a high-octane fashion, won’t phase the Cyclones. Iowa State has seven players averaging double-digits and can play inside-out, up and down the court, and even be deliberate if the game situation calls for it. Niang matched his career high with 31 points against Oklahoma on Thursday and has scored in double figures in 41 consecutive games and 112 in his career. If opponents focus too much effort in attempting to limit Niang with double-teams, the backcourt of the Cyclones led by veteran point-man Monte Morris (13.9 points, 6.9 assists) make the opposition pay from beyond the arc. Iowa State has made 10 or more 3-pointers in 12 games this season which closely matches that of Iona, a team that has accomplished this feat 16 times.
FREE PICK: IOWA STATE -7.5