NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks for Auburn vs Iowa

NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks for Auburn vs Iowa article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Kris Murray of Iowa and Johni Broome of Auburn

Auburn vs Iowa Odds

Thursday, March 16
6:50 p.m. ET
Auburn Odds
-110o / -110u
Iowa Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Auburn and Iowa meet in Birmingham as the Tigers get a semi-home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Auburn had a ton of late-game scenarios go against it this season and finished the season 20-12. The Tigers possess a ton of talent and are battle-tested after playing a top-25 most-difficult schedule in the country.

The question is: can their offense keep up with Iowa in this game, or will it go cold, which has happened one too many times this season?

The Iowa Hawkeyes were a complete rollercoaster of a team this season. They had highs of beating Indiana by 21 on the road, and they've had lows like losing to Eastern Illinois at home.

Iowa has an electric offense that is capable of going ballistic at any moment, but the defense has really struggled to keep the team in games this season.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers are the kings of second-half collapses. In six of their 11 losses this season, Auburn has held a lead at some point in the second half.

Offense has been a bit of a struggle for Auburn all season long; the team is 48th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom.

The problem is it's one of the highest-frequency transition teams in the country, but it isn't very efficient in transition, averaging 1.24 PPP, which is 291st in the country.

The entire offense is dependent on Wendell Green Jr. and Johni Broome, who are taking 55% of the team's shots when they're on the floor. Green is a very good facilitator and draws a ton of fouls, but the problem is that he's shooting a very poor 29.5% from 3-point range.

Auburn has been good on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 29th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and the Tigers on paper are an elite 3-point defense.

Auburn is allowing only 28.3% from 3-point range, which is the third-best mark in the country. However, you have to take that number with a grain of salt.

Out of every single conference in college basketball, the SEC was dead last in cumulative 3-point field goal percentage, so facing an efficient 3-point shooting team — like Iowa — might be a wake-up call for the Tigers.

The Tigers do defend the rim incredibly well, allowing 53% on the season, which is big against Iowa.

But they have a major flaw: they're a terrible defensive rebounding team, ranking 319th in defensive rebounding percentage, while Iowa is top-70.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa is an outstanding offensive team, ranking third in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom.

What the Hawkeyes do a good job of is attacking the rim and taking quality 3-point shots, which are the two most valuable shots on a basketball court.

During Big Ten play, Iowa had the fourth-highest Rim & 3-Point Rate and is averaging 1.07 PPP on those shots. It also spaces the floor incredibly well, which has led to it being a top-10 team in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

It also helps that Iowa is top-10 in turnover percentage on offense.

Image via ShotQuality

Iowa has one of the best offensive players in the country at its disposal in Kris Murray. He is averaging 20.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while also shooting 59.1% from inside the arc and 34% from 3-point range.

Kris Murray hasn't hit the rim yet.

4-4, with 3 3s. 🙌

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 1, 2023

For Iowa to be successful offensively in this game, the Hawkeyes have to attack Auburn where the Tigers are weakest, which is defending screens. Iowa runs either pick-and-roll or off-ball screens on 19% of its offensive sets, but that number will have to increase on Thursday.

Iowa will also need to be effective in crashing the offensive glass, considering Auburn is an awful defensive rebounding team.

The problems that have existed for Iowa have been on the defensive end of the floor. For whatever reason, teams are just shooting lights out against the Hawkeyes, who are 167th in defensive efficiency on KenPom but 22nd on ShotQuality

The main three areas where Iowa struggles are defending in transition, defending mid-range jumpers and defending post-up sets, which they see a lot in the Big Ten.

The Hawks are outside 230 in PPP allowed on those three sets, which isn't great against Auburn — those are three of its highest frequency sets on offense.

Auburn vs Iowa Betting Pick

This is a great matchup for Iowa's offense to thrive against an overrated Tigers defense.

Auburn has benefitted by defending in the SEC against terrible 3-point-shooting teams for a long time now and just gave up 1.13 PPP to Arkansas in the SEC Tournament despite the Razorbacks shooting 3-for-11 from behind the arc.

So, what do you think the third-most efficient offense in the country is going to do?

Iowa's ability to crash the offensive glass and get to the free-throw line at high rate are huge against Auburn, considering those are its two weaknesses.

The Auburn offense is way too reliant on Green and Broome to provide all of its offense, and Iowa has fantastic athletes to matchup well against those two.

So, I love the value on the Hawks at +1 (Bet365) to move on to face Houston in the second round.

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