NCAA March Madness: Iowa State Cyclones vs. Pittsburgh Panthers betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 6 vs. 11 matchup in the Midwest region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, the Iowa State Cyclones face the Pittsburgh Panthers with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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Midwest Region No. 6 Seed Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones have flown under the radar a bit this season, as they had to play in the grueling Big 12. It’s hard to have a good record when you’re playing excellent teams regularly, but Iowa State is a group that can do some damage in March. The Cyclones showed the world how good they are by earning two wins in a row over the Baylor Bears in March. This is an elite team on the defensive end of the floor, and guards Jaren Holmes and Gabe Kalscheur can do a little damage on offense. If either of them gets hot in a game, the Cyclones will be tough to eliminate from this tournament.
Midwest Region No. 11 Seed Pittsburgh Panthers
Pittsburgh was a beneficiary of getting to play in the weak ACC this season, as the team wasn’t all that impressive but managed to win more than 20 games. Still, it’s hard to rule out a team that is efficient offensively, and Jeff Capel’s group is certainly that. The Panthers have two guys that can be really tough to guard, with Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson both coming off fantastic regular seasons. Greg Elliott and Nelly Cummings are also players that can heat up and swing games. You might remember Cummings scoring 20 points against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first round of last year’s tournament, when he was with the Colgate Raiders. If Pittsburgh heats up, this team can beat anyone. However, the team is very beatable on the other end of the floor, and the team’s focus has been up and down all year. The good news is that the Panthers were as locked in as could be in a 60-59 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the First Four. Pitt held Mississippi State to 38.1% shooting from the floor in that one.
Iowa State vs. Pittsburgh matchup analysis
It wasn’t pretty (no Mississippi State game is), but the Pitt Panthers survived and escaped in Dayton with a 60-59 win over the Bulldogs to draw a matchup with Iowa State in the first round. This is a Friday game, so Pitt has a little extra recovery time and the travel to Greensboro is hardly taxing from Dayton. Not all First Four teams are that lucky.
Iowa State’s 3P Rate against is 46.8% this season and opponents shoot 33.8% on those shots. Given how Pitt really wants to shoot 3s and actually does rather well with it, this looks to potentially be a better matchup than the one against Mississippi State. Nearly 44% of Pitt’s shot attempts are 3s and they’re shooting 36.2% on triple tries. That could be a really big positive for them in North Carolina.
Iowa State’s best attribute is forcing turnovers. The shooting numbers for and against are all pretty close to the national averages, but the Cyclones have a 25.1% TO% on defense, which is second in the nation. Pitt’s 16.3% TO% on offense is 54th in the country, but few ACC teams are aggressive enough with ball pressure to force takeaways.
The Cyclones have pedestrian shooting numbers in large part because of the strength of schedule. Twenty-one of their 32 games were against Quadrant I opponents and both Bart Torvik and Ken Pomeroy have the Cyclones with a top-10 strength of schedule. In fact, KenPom’s numbers have Iowa State playing the fourth-toughest slate of opponents, while Pitt checks in at 93rd.
One thing to watch as this game goes along is that Iowa State rotates in a lot of guys to stay fresh with their aggressive, turnover-hungry defense. Pitt only runs about six or seven guys deep and big man Federiko Federiko is questionable with a knee injury that kept him out of the First Four game.
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