NCAA Tournament odds: No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame
Iowa State was one of the final teams to get an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones have proven they can play with anyone at home but have had their struggles away from Ames. They opened as 1.5-point WagerWeb.com dogs for Friday’s game in Dayton against Notre Dame, which could be playing its final game as a Big East member. Check our current lines.
The Cyclones don’t lack experience. They start three seniors, including Will Clyburn, who is averaging 15 points and 7.1 rebounds. Tyrus McGee, another senior, has given Iowa State a lift off the bench for most of the season as one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. No team in the country makes more 3-point field goals than Iowa State. Iowa State hoists more than 26 per game and makes 10, hardly the most accurate percentage in the country (34th), but certainly effective in making opponents guard the Cyclones all over the floor.
However, the Cyclones too often have to outscore teams because they just don’t get enough stops. Kansas scored 108 against them (overtime). Oklahoma put up 86. Even seventh-place Texas hit 89 in a double-overtime upset win. The Cyclones’ big concern: They are 4-9 on the road this season.
The Irish are a slow-paced team that make the most of their possessions. Notre Dame shoots pretty well from behind the 3-point line and from short range, is good on the offensive glass, passes the ball well and doesn’t turn it over often. The offensive efficiency is one reason Notre Dame is 25-9 this season.
The Irish are also one of the few teams this year to beat Louisville, which they did in five overtimes on Feb. 9 in one of college basketball’s games of the year. Although coach Mike Brey has done a fine job at Notre Dame, he has had a tough time getting the Irish out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. The last time Notre Dame made the Sweet 16 was in 2003. If the Irish win a couple games in this year’s tournament, it will be on the inside-outside combo of forward Jack Cooley (13.1 points per game) and guard Jerian Grant (13.4 points per game).
This is the fourth straight trip for the Irish and the ninth in 13 seasons under Brey. Brey has a 6-8 NCAA Championship record during his Notre Dame tenure. This will be just the second meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Iowa State. The Fighting Irish topped the Cyclones, 87-77, on Dec. 3, 1979, in South Bend. The winner will face the winner of the Ohio State-Iona tilt on Sunday in the third round.
WagerWeb.com trends: Cyclones are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games following a S.U. loss. Cyclones are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss. Cyclones are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games. Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games. Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Fighting Irish are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Friday games. Fighting Irish are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.