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Iowa State vs TCU Odds & Picks: Why Horned Frogs Have Value

Iowa State vs TCU Odds & Picks: Why Horned Frogs Have Value article feature image
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Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Miles Jr. (TCU)

Iowa State vs. TCU Odds

Saturday, Jan. 7
2 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Iowa State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+5.5
-110
132.5
-115o / -105u
+188
TCU Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-5.5
-110
132.5
-115o / -105u
-230
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The level of competition in the Big 12 is absurd. So absurd, in fact, that of the 20 possible games (home and away versus the 10 different schools), 17 Quad 1 opportunities and just three Quad 2 games are featured.

That gauntlet continues for Iowa State and TCU.

Both schools are coming off massive Quad 1 road wins (at Oklahoma and at Baylor, respectively). Saturday brings another Q1 opportunity for both — and a chance to remain atop the league standings.

The winner will, at minimum, sit atop the conference at 3-0 with (if they win) Kansas and Kansas State.

TCU fans will certainly use this is a 48-hour pregame before the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday. The semifinal seemed to detract from the home crowd against Texas Tech last weekend.

But after the hoops edition of the Horned Frogs won at Baylor, expect a fever pitch at Schollmaier Arena.


Iowa State Cyclones

Last year’s Cyclones blew past expectations with a physical, pressure-based defense and a “barely above the Mendoza line” offense.

That led to a perfect 13-0 record in non-conference play and a Sweet 16 appearance, so why mess with it?

T.J. Otzelberger skillfully replaced a star freshman point guard and a bevy of overperforming transfers with … a star freshman point guard and additional capable transfers.

Tamin Lipsey has seamlessly replaced Tyrese Hunter, and though he’s less of a scoring threat, he impacts the game in many ways. He’s a key to the Clones’ pressure, helping Iowa State rank second in the country in steal rate.

The Cyclones are immensely comfortable applying such pressure because they know the rim is a no-fly zone.

Osun Osunniyi is an elite shot-blocker, and fellow bigs Robert Jones and Hason Ward make things difficult, as well. That all adds up to a top-10 defense nationally, by KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.

Iowa State is again dragged down by its half-court offense. The steals produce easy buckets, but when forced to execute against a set opponent, the Clones can bog down.

That’s especially true without Aljaz Kunc, a versatile 6-foot-8 option who can stretch the floor. He’s out for a month with a broken finger.

Lipsey and Jaren Holmes are somewhat miscast as primary creators. Gabe Kalscheur’s shooting numbers have ticked up from last year’s biohazard-caliber nightmare, but he’s still far from a lights-out gunner.

Iowa State needs its defense to fuel its offense.

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TCU Horned Frogs

The first 10 days of the season are a distant memory in Fort Worth. These Horned Frogs snuck by Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Lamar before losing to Northwestern State (a Quad 4 blemish).

It looked like a classic case of a team returning its entire roster stagnating in development.

Since then, though, TCU has been a rocket ship.

Jamie Dixon’s team has reeled off 11 straight victories, including quality scalps against Iowa (when Iowa was good), Providence, Utah in Salt Lake City and two Big 12 wins.

The Horned Frogs are 8-2-1 against the spread in that span, blowing past the lower bar of expectations they set for themselves.

TCU has rediscovered the identity that made it such a pain to deal with late last year. The Frogs are a physical force, battering opponents on defense and relentlessly assaulting the rim on offense.

Led by human wrecking ball Eddie Lampkin Jr., they are again one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country.

Their one defect? Horrific perimeter shooting. TCU smartly does not take many 3s, primarily because it cannot make them.

Mike Miles Jr. is an All-American scoring guard, but he’s streaky from deep.

The supporting cast is similarly hot and (mostly) cold. TCU ranks 335th nationally in 3P% at 28.8% this year. In their two league games, the Horned Frogs hit just 17.9% from beyond the arc.

And yet, they won both of those games. And they are 13-1 overall.

If the shooting ever comes around, this is a juggernaut.

Unfortunately, the sample size over the last 48 games indicates that perimeter potency will never emerge.


Iowa State vs. TCU Betting Pick

KenPom makes this game TCU -4. Bart Torvik has it TCU -2.8. The market has bet TCU recently (notably hammering the Frogs from -3 to -6 against Texas Tech last Saturday), so seeing that opener (-5.5) isn’t surprising.

I expect the Frogs to again take money, but I also expect to be a part of that money.

The first three games of TCU’s season are almost wholly irrelevant to this handicap. Damion Baugh was suspended and Miles was banged up. The Horned Frogs have proven to be a vastly different team when at full strength.

However, the cement shoes of that opening trio of contests continue to weigh down their spreads.

To me, that creates value.

On the other side, Iowa State has been excellent, but this is a different challenge. The Cyclones’ wins over Baylor and Oklahoma were against arguably the two worst defenses in the conference.

Their limited offense could run into trouble against a more formidable foe.

I would lay -5.5 with TCU, and -6 for a lesser amount.

Pick: TCU -5.5 (Play to -6)

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