Iowa State vs. Wisconsin Odds, Picks: Which Side Will Advance to Sweet 16? (March 20)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Davis.
Iowa State vs. Wisconsin Odds
|Iowa State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
One of the beautiful things about the NCAA Tournament is the bracket’s ability to pair teams in wildly different circumstances, making for oddly intriguing matchups.
If there’s anything intriguing about Sunday’s second-round tilt between Wisconsin and Iowa State, there’s certainly some oddity around it.
The Badgers continue to walk a tight rope, daring fate with another razor-thin victory Friday over Colgate. Iowa State’s roller-coaster season peaked again in the first round, with the Cyclones knocking off an LSU team in turmoil.
The bracket has gifted us a battle of one of the nation’s streakiest teams with one of its luckiest. That makes for a pickle for bettors looking to wager on the game.
Wisconsin is the supposedly lucky team in this matchup, yet the Cyclones got plenty of breaks this week.
First, the committee paired them with a 6-seed that fired its coach the day before Selection Sunday. Certainly, that made life easier for a team that had gone just 7-12 since Jan. 1.
On the court, the Cyclones were fortunate as well. Tyrese Hunter is a 28% 3-point shooter. In the first-round game against LSU, he took a season-high 11 attempts from long range, canning seven of those shots, including the dagger to seal the game.
For the second-worst offense in the Big 12, a little shooting luck went a long, long way.
The Cyclones typically win their games on the other end of the floor, ranking 10th in the nation in defensive efficiency. Iowa State forces turnovers at a top-five rate in college basketball, using those transition possessions to buffer a struggling offense.
First-year Iowa State head coach TJ Otzelberger preaches high-energy defense and has a roster that can force the issue at every position.
If anything, the Cyclones have a tendency to be overaggressive, ranking outside the top 300 in free-throw rate allowed.
Wisconsin needed every ounce of effort to sneak past Colgate in the first round. The Raiders used their hot shooting to build a lead over Wisconsin before the Badger defense locked in late in the second half and fanned the flames of the Wisconsin-supporting crowd in Milwaukee.
The game was a breakout moment of sorts for Johnny Davis. The sophomore star was among the contenders for National Player of the Year but cooled late in the season, especially after a rolled ankle against Nebraska. He played just 12 minutes versus the Huskers, then shot 3-of-19 from the field in Wisconsin’s next game, a loss in the Big Ten Tournament.
Davis looked like his old self in the second half against Colgate, finishing the game with 25 points and eight rebounds. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, he told reporters after the game that he felt a twinge of aggravation in the sprained ankle on a play in the game’s final seconds.
His status will be monumental to the outcome of this game. The Badgers simply don’t have enough offensive firepower to generate consistent offense without Davis scoring or posing a threat to attack off the bounce.
Iowa State vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick
Iowa State started the season 12-0 in nonconference play but did so against the 328th-ranked schedule, per KenPom. Once the Cyclones made their way into Big 12 play, life got a lot more difficult.
This season, Iowa State went 3-5 in road or neutral games against NCAA Tournament opponents.
Only one of those wins came after Dec. 5, and none of those wins came against teams seeded sixth or higher. In road or neutral games against teams seeded sixth or higher, Iowa State went 0-5 with an average margin of defeat of 14.6.
Wisconsin, as lucky as it may have gotten, is definitively the better team here, especially with a fully healthy Davis. When he’s at his best, he makes up for so many of the Badgers’ shortcomings.
I expect him to do so Sunday, winning this game for Wisconsin in front of a decidedly pro-Badger crowd in Milwaukee.
Pick: Wisconsin -4.5