Forget the defense on Thursday afternoon, as Iowa State brings their strong inside game against the streaky shooting of Iona. Gaels guard A.J. English might be the best scorer in the tournament, but he’ll need help inside to stop ISU’s Georges Niang. The Cyclones should be on upset alert, as Iona is entering the tournament on an eight-game winning streak.
Here’s a look at the odds, courtesy of OddsShark.com:
Spread: Iowa State (-7.5)
Moneyline: Iowa State (-350) Iona (+290)
Iowa State may be the favorite heading into Thursday, but Iona is the hotter team. English is the only player in the tournament averaging at least 20/5/5 and has NBA range. But if Iona wants to run, the Cyclones will have no problem keeping up. ISU have one of the most efficient offenses in the country, averaging 120.5 points per 100 possessions according to Ken Pomeroy.
Those points will mostly come from Niang, ISU’s two-time All-American. The senior forward averaged 19.8 points per game in his final season, and posted 31 points in the team’s Big 12 tournament exit against Oklahoma.
If Iona gets hot in the second half, the Cyclones could be in trouble. But the Gaels haven’t been tested much in the MAAC this season, and are ten days removed from a win over Monmouth. Every bracket should include at least one upset to a top-four seed, but in this matchup Iowa State have a deeper, more experienced roster.