Iona vs. Iowa State -9 O/U 166.5
We’ve got two teams that love to run, pushing the pace at every opportunity – this is the highest total (by a fairly wide margin) of the first round for a reason! And it’s the type of game where the loser can be expected to get into the 80’s, if not higher! Both squads rank among the Top 35 in the country when it comes to tempo; with each team averaging less than 16 seconds per possession. And when two teams like this get together, it’s a track meet, Throw in the early start time and the mile high altitude and we can expect defense to be optional for extended stretches of this ball game.
The Gaels have scored 78+ in nine of their last ten games; lighting up the scoreboard even against opponents who were trying to slow them down. When they faced another uptempo opponent – Fairfield, for example – the Gaels scored 91 and lost. In their first matchup with Monmouth, the Gaels scored 102 in regulation and lost. In fact, in ten Iona games with a total of 158 or higher, they went 8-2 to the Over; playing even faster than the betting markets could account for.
One thing Iona does not do much of, however, is play defense. Iowa State has spent the better part of the last three months slogging it out in halfcourt sets against one elite Big 12 defense after the next. The Gaels don’t play D like Oklahoma , Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M or West Virginia; a HUGE step down in defensive class for an exceptional offensive squad; ranked #3 in the country by KenPom in offensive efficiency.
The Cyclones hung 80+ 11 times in Big XII play against those quality defenses on the heels of scoring 80+ seven times in their first eight non-conference games. Heck, this team got to 160 against Northern Iowa and Cincinnati in back-to-back games, two teams at the very slow end of any pace rankings. This one’s gonna be fun to watch!
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