CONNECTICUT HUSKIES (28-8)
vs. IOWA STATE CYCLONES (28-7)
NCAA Tournament - Sweet 16
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
Tip-off: Friday, 7:25 p.m. ET
Line: Iowa State -1.5, Total: 146
Following a 77-65 win against East region No. 2 seed Villanova, seventh-seeded Connecticut will look to pull off another upset as it heads to Madison Square Garden for a showdown with Iowa State’s ultra-productive offense.
Here is the Bet DSI breakdown on the entire Sweet 16:
With SU and ATS wins against Saint Joseph’s (in overtime) and Villanova in the first two games of the tournament, the Huskies are now 4-1 ATS in their past five games and 17-5 SU in the past 22 contests, with three of those five defeats coming to Louisville. That improves their season-long mark to 19-15 ATS with a 7-6 ATS record against non-conference opponents. Despite some inconsistencies during AAC play, Connecticut has shown a penchant for beating top teams all season with wins against NCAA Tournament teams such as Florida, Villanova, Memphis (three times) and Cincinnati (twice). UConn is 8-1 SU (4-5 ATS) on neutral courts this season. But containing Iowa State, which beat UNC Central and North Carolina to reach the Sweet 16, will be a difficult task. The Cyclones have covered in six straight games, shooting above 44% from three-point range in each of their past five contests. The streak has pushed Iowa State to 17-15-1 ATS this season, including a dominant non-conference record of 14-0 SU (8-3-1 ATS). The Cyclones are now 9-0 SU (6-2-1 ATS) at neutral sites. When these two teams met in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, eight-seeded ISU won and covered by a 77-64 score against the ninth-seeded Huskies. Both teams have favorable coaching trends for this matchup, as UConn is 10-2 ATS in non-home games versus good teams (4+ PPG margin) after 15+ games in a season under head coach Kevin Ollie, while Iowa State is 15-2 ATS after a win by six points or less under head coach Fred Hoiberg.
Can UConn contain ISU's explosive offense on Friday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts opened the NCAA Tournament with a sizzling 62% ATS mark (46-28-1) through the Round of 32, making them a stellar 60% ATS (322-218-17) in college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 33-9-2 (79% ATS) since Feb. 6 and 42-12-3 (78% ATS) since Jan. 17, to give him a robust 69% ATS (74-33-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is a phenomenal 80% ATS (12-3) in Best Bets for the NCAA Tournament, making him 66% ATS (51-26-1) in Best Bets since Dec. 18 and 62% ATS (68-41-2) this season. StatFox Scott is a strong 64% ATS (9-5-1) in Best Bets for the NCAA Tournament, 66% ATS (23-12-3) since Feb. 16 and 59% ATS (63-44-5) for the season. StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (58-40) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 56% ATS (62-48-2) for the season.
Connecticut’s offense doesn’t stack up to Iowa State’s, averaging 72.5 PPG (121st in Div. I) on 44.8% shooting (138th in nation), but this club has been outstanding from the foul line (76.5%, 7th in Div. I). But the strength of this club is its stingy defense, giving up 63.7 PPG (37th in Div. I) on 38.9% FG (11th in nation) thanks to a whopping 6.0 BPG (12th in Div. I). Senior PG Shabazz Napier (17.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.9 APG) leads the Huskies in all three major categories, stepping up during the first two games of the tournament with 24.5 PPG. He scored a game-high 22 points in the 2012 NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa State, hitting 3-of-5 threes while adding a game-high six assists. He’s joined on the perimeter by SG Ryan Boatright (11.9 PPG, 3.5 APG) and ultra sharpshooter Niels Giffey (8.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG), who is hitting an incredible 52% threes this season. Down low, PF DeAndre Daniels (12.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG) is their top scorer, but he can also stretch defenses, hitting 45% threes. When he steps outside, 7-foot freshman C Amida Brimah (4.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG) can hit the glass and protect the hoop, pacing the team with 2.4 BPG in only 16.5 MPG.
Iowa State’s 83.2 PPG (5th in nation) come from 47.5% FG (28th in Div. I) and a nation-leading 18.5 APG. The Cyclones drain 8.4 threes per game (21st in nation) on a solid 35.8% shooting from beyond the arc, but are not great from the line at 69.8% FT. Their quick offense can hurt their defense too, yielding 74.2 PPG (279th in Div. I) on 41.8% FG (83rd in nation) and 35.8% threes (103rd in Div. I). Senior PG DeAndre Kane (17.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 5.8 APG) runs the offense, pacing the team in passing, and ranking second in scoring. Freshman SG Monte Morris (6.6 PPG, 3.7 APG) helps Kane play off the ball and will need to facilitate even more with SF Georges Niang (16.7 PPG) now out for the season with a broken foot. Niang’s absence only puts more pressure on leading scorer PF Melvin Ejim (18.1 PPG, 8.4 RPG), who along with PF Dustin Hogue (10.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG) attacks the glass extremely effectively. Niang’s absence could also create more opportunities for SG Naz Long (7.1 PPG) to sit on the perimeter, as he did against North Carolina when he drained 4-of-8 threes for 12 points. At 41% threes, he is the only Cyclones player who shoots better than 40% from three-point range, making the team’s recent hot outside shooting even more of a surprise.