Iowa State vs. LSU NCAA Tournament First Round Picks

Darius Days #4 of the LSU Tigers celebrates a win. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP.

The third game of the day in the – Brew City – Milwaukee, will have No. 6 LSU facing No. 11 Iowa State in this Midwest Region matchup. Both clubs have issues, who can overcome them?

After posting an 0-19 Big 12 record last season, Iowa State decided it was time for a change in coaching. Enter T.J. Otzelberger, who did great at South Dakota State and not so great at UNLV. With Cyclones predicted last again in the Big 12, they got off to a stunning 12-0 start, which included victories over what turned out to be NCAA tournament teams in Memphis, Creighton, and hated in-state rival Iowa.

Everything got much harder once conference play began and Iowa State ended up 7-12 including the postseason tournament. Can the Cyclones recapture the magic?

LSU also got off to a cracking start at 15-1 with their only setback at then No. 1 Auburn. The Tigers also found conference play more taxing and split 20 SEC affairs that included the postseason. The day after losing to Arkansas in the quarterfinals, LSU fired head coach Will Wade for serious transgressions within the basketball program.

Why they waited that long is an unanswered question, but Kevin Nickelberry has the job for now and will try and calm the turbulent waters.

Iowa State Cyclones vs. LSU Tigers 

Friday, March 18, 2022 – 07:20 PM EDT at Fiserv Forum

Top sportsbooks like Caesars Sportsbook have LSU as a four-point favorite with a total of 128.5 when reviewing all their betting odds. Let’s look further at the combatants.

Iowa State Has to Protect the Ball and Make Shots to Win

The Cyclones play at a pedestrian pace offensively and sometimes their offense is like a train going off the tracks into a smoldering tire fire. In two of Iowa State’s last three games, they scored 36 and 41, which look like partial scores, not final scores. As inconceivable as that a Big 12 club could score that few points, the Cyclones have tallied three others in the 40s against Jackson State, TCU, and Texas. Though LSU has shooting concerns of their own, if Iowa State does not break the 50-point barrier, they are done.

Iowa State does a good job on defense by holding opponents to 63 points a game on 42.8% shooting and they rank 17th nationally in three-point percentage defense. Otzelberger’s squad has to create their normal 17 forced turnovers and do their best to get at least 20 points by doing so to keep them in the contest.

LSU Has to Protect the Ball, Make Shots to Win and Overcome the Loss of Coach

We know the subtitle isn’t particularly creative compared to the one above, however, in doing the research, most would agree that LSU is a better version of Iowa State, essentially the same club in a parallel universe.

The Tigers didn’t have anywhere as many horrific scoring games as their opponent and that was primarily because the 18 turnovers a contest they generated were converted more easily into baskets and enough old-fashioned three-point plays.

LSU shoots 44% compared to ISU at 43.9% and each squad averages seven made 3s and basically makes 43% from behind the arc. Not much difference. Where the Tigers have an advantage is retrieving errant shots thanks to their quickness and size. They rank 26th in offensive rebounds versus Iowa State at 168. That can be a difference-maker in a tight game.

What we don’t know is what losing Wade means to the team. If Nickelberry can get his guys to focus on the moment and play for each other, LSU is good. If not, it is one and done for the crew from Baton Rouge.

What Is the Best Side to Be On?

For college basketball picks, the LSU edges might not be dramatic, yet, they should be enough. Both teams played against high-level competition, with the Tigers not great on offense but definitely more consistent.

Each offense averages way too many turnovers at 14 over 40 minutes, with LSU more skilled at converting those into points. The Tigers as mentioned do a better job on the offensive glass and they get to the free-throw line more often (20 vs. 16), make more (14 vs. 11), and drain a higher percentage (73 vs. 68).

When we put this puzzle together, it is purple and gold and LSU wins and covers the NCAAB odds to play on Sunday in the Round of 32.

NCAAB Pick: LSU -4 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook