Iowa State vs. Miami NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks

Tristan Enaruna #23 and Aljaz Kunc #5 of the Iowa State Cyclones celebrate. (Photo by Patrick McDermott / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The final game of the Sweet 16 features No. 11 Iowa State tipping off against No. 10 Miami in the Midwest Region on Friday night. Let’s analyze this matchup of Cinderella squads and keep cashing our college basketball picks!  

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Miami Hurricanes

Friday, March 25, 2022 – 09:59 PM EDT at United Center

The Cyclones have whirled their way into the Sweet 16 with wins over LSU and Wisconsin because of their smothering perimeter defense. Consider that the Cyclones held LSU to 21.1 percent from three-point range and followed that up with an even more impressive effort when holding Wisconsin to an anemic 9.1 percent from beyond the arc. Iowa State went on to defeat the Tigers, 59-54, and the Badgers, 54-49, as three-point underdogs in both games to get their ticket punched to their Sweet 16 date with Miami. 

After registering a 2-22 mark from last season the Cyclones have done a complete reversal, currently boasting a 22-12 overall record. “We didn’t set out for a certain win total or to do anything based on what transpired in the past,” first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “What we did set out to do is restore pride to a program that I love so much, our players do and has a rich history.” 

Rockin’ Like a Hurricane 

Miami has not only been careful with the ball but their relentless pressure defense has wreaked havoc and caused turnovers. Because of this they put USC to sleep in their first-round matchup, 68-66, and flexed yet again when the Hurricanes blew Auburn off of the floor in a 79-61 thrashing of the No. 2 seed in the region.  

In the Canes’ first two tournament games they own an astounding 31-7 turnover differential. It’s been a disciplined approach that has propelled Miami over the seventh and second seeds in the Midwest and if they continue down that path, they will be a tough out for anyone, especially a No. 11 seed like Iowa State.  

The small yet relentless lineup has the experience of seniors Sam Waardenburg, Charlie Moore, and Kameron McGusty keeping their defense tight while sophomore Isaiah Wong has been the top scorer in both tournament clashes with 22 against USC and 21 in his team’s lopsided win over Auburn. The Tigers’ Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, 6’10” Jabari Smith, noted Miami’s unyielding pressure defense after the game, “They just sent somebody anytime I tried to attack or make a move. They just kept bodies on me.” 

Wanna Make a Bet? 

If you like Cinderella stories then you have to love this matchup. But the lean here is heavy on Miami as the Hurricanes are in a defensive groove that refuses to allow the kind of ball distribution that the weak-shooting Cyclones are going to need to win this game.  

In their two previous contests, the Cyclones have shot 35.1 percent from the floor compared to the Hurricanes who have knocked it down at a 45.7 clip. I am not convinced that Iowa State has the offensive chops to stay with Miami even though, like the Hurricanes, are playing excellent defense.  

But turnovers matter and once the Canes start picking the pockets of the Cyclones this score is going to get out of reach. The college basketball odds at some of the best U.S. licensed online sportsbooks, like FanDuel, show Miami as a palatable 2 ½ point favorite and that’s short enough for us.  

As for the total, we see it going low here as Miami will be using the clock once they get up by double-digits in the second half. The fairy tale will continue for one of these two teams but it looks to us like midnight will come early for Iowa State in this one.  

College Basketball Pick: Miami -2 ½ (-110) at FanDuel 

College Basketball Pick: Under 133 ½ (-110) at BetMGM