The NCAA Tournament continues on Thursday night as the No. 8 seed Iowa State Cyclones take on the No. 9 seed Connecticut Huskies. The game is scheduled for a 9:20 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on TBS. Currently the odds have Connecticut favored from 1.5 to 2.5 points with the total sitting at 137 points. This game opened up as a PICK with neither team favored, but since opening both teams have been favored in the matchup.
Free Analysis: The line movement in this game has been interesting to see. When the lines opened up on Sunday night it didn't appear where the sharps were heading with the line as Iowa State was favored and then Connecticut favored later on. Eventually the line got up to UCONN by 2.5 points but it since has come down a full points. Not many people figured Connecticut would make the tournament with their lackluster season this year, but they are the defending national champions and did play in the best conference in America in the Big East. Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said he believes his team is finally starting to look like a basketball club and should play well. "I always felt this team pushed too hard, too much, to try to be something it wasn't yet," he said. "And that's somewhat of why we had an up-and-down season for us. I think they're not chasing something now. They're playing basketball." Iowa State won 22 games this season and obviously isn't on par with Connecticut's tradition. The Cyclones have only made one Final Four all time (1995) and are making their first NCAA appearance since 2005. However, don't think that Fred Hoiberg's team is going to be intimidated. They've beaten Kansas and Baylor this season and are a No. 8 seed in the tournament, one spot higher than the Huskies. Although, historically in this matchup, the 8/9 games always seem to pit two teams that are pretty evenly matched. The Cyclones played a tough schedule and are using that for motivation in this contest. "We've been trying to talk about that a lot the last few days," Hoiberg said. "It's such a tough, grueling schedule. But at the same time, you understand how well prepared you'll be once you play on the stage we're about to play on." Connecticut sports two of the best guards in America in Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, but this Huskies team is very different than the one that won five straight games in the Big East Tournament and ran all the way through the tournament. Plus, in addition to the great guards, Connecticut has big men up front in freshman center Andre Drummond and "forward" Alex Oriakhi. Both big men can run the floor and provide some serious length inside for the Huskies. Iowa State will counter inside with Royce White, who is 6-8 and 270 pounds. He's a big boy as well. He leads Iowa State in points scored (13.1 points), rebounding (9.2) and blocks (0.9) and also leads the Cyclones in assists (5.1) and steals (1.2). He's also in the top five in the Big 12 in both rebounding and assists. "You can't simulate him," Calhoun said of White. "We've seen the kids who can shoot. We've seen the kids that can post up. But he's a unique basketball player and hard to simulate in practice. He's a handful, without a question." The Huskies can put up some points at a little less than 69 points per game but Iowa State actually eclipses that number, totaling more than 73 points per game on average. The Cyclones give up right around 67 points per game while Connecticut checks in at giving up 64 points a game. A key note from this season is that Iowa State is 7-2 overall this season coming off a loss, which happened to them in the conference tournament.
Free Pick: I like Iowa State in this game because I just can't trust Connecticut at this point. One could argue that the Huskies have the most overall talent of any team in the country with several NBA draft pick options, including lottery guys, but unless the entire team is all on the same page in a given game, they really don't seem to be able to put it all together. Iowa State opened as a 1-point favorite for a reason and I think they are the better team at this point in the season. There's no reason, when you match up rosters, that Connecticut shouldn't be favored by 8-9 points in this game. They're favored by less than a bucket in this game and I think there's a reason for that. Give me White and the Cyclones in this game outright, topping a Connecticut team that just hasn't been able to get it all together.
Free Picks: Connecticut vs Iowa State BettingIowa State is flying under the radar and Calhoun back with Connecticut would be motivating plus other factors college basketball bettors need to know about Connecticut vs Iowa State (Thursday, March 15, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Stephen Nover and analysis from host Marco D'Angelo.