Illinois vs. Iowa State Sweet 16 Pick – 3-28

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iowa state vs. illinois pick ats
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Sweet 16 Showdown: Illinois vs. Iowa State in a Clash of Styles

The stage is set at TD Garden for a thrilling Sweet 16 battle between contrasting forces: the offensive juggernaut Illinois Fighting Illini (28-8) and the defensive powerhouse Iowa State Cyclones (29-7). This clash on Thursday, March 28th at 10:05 PM EDT guarantees fireworks.

The Fighting Illini’s Firepower

Illinois enters its first Sweet 16 since 2005 on a tear, averaging 87 points per game in the tourney and shooting a scorching 57% from the field. Terrence Shannon Jr. has been unstoppable, and the team’s 40% 3-point accuracy poses a constant threat. Defensively, the Illini hold opponents in check, limiting them to 65.5 points per game.

The Cyclones’ Defensive Wall

Iowa State makes life difficult for opponents. Their stingy defense surrenders just 60.5 points per game in the tournament while clamping down on shooters (43% allowed). The Cyclones are battle-tested, demonstrated by their combined 28-point margin of victory in their two NCAA Tournament wins. They remain one of only two Big 12 teams still alive in the tournament.

Key Stats and Trends

  • ATS Records: Iowa State boasts the edge at 26-10 ATS, compared to Illinois’ 21-13-1.
  • Momentum: Iowa State had a brief scare against Washington State, tied at halftime, before surging in the second half.

X-Factor: Can Illinois crack the Cyclone defense?

Illinois’ high-octane offense will be put to the test against Iowa State’s suffocating pressure. If the Illini can find their shooting rhythm and limit turnovers, they have a shot at pulling off the upset.

Prediction

Our model forecasts a narrow Iowa State win, 73-68, in a defensive slugfest.

Common Opponents: A Shared History

Interestingly, both teams faced Eastern Illinois and Iowa during the season. Both the Illini and Cyclones dominated Eastern Illinois, while each also secured close, hard-fought victories over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Our Pick – Iowa State -1.5

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