Gaels to give Cylcones all they can handle
If you like your buckets in bunches, there may be no better NCAA tournament offering than Thursday afternoon’s Iona-Iowa State track meet.
Yes, we’ve only just begun the Big Dance. Yet these high-octane attacks are a rare breed indeed. The Cyclones tally 82 points a contest, while the Gaels similarly torched nets across the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The oddmakers at online sports book BetDSI have therefore issued a whopping over/under total of 167, picking ISU (21-11) as an 8-point favorite in the Mile High City. Could the thin air actually present the only containment plan for such rollicking offenses?
Surprisingly, signs of vulnerability do exist. Fourth-seeded Iowa State enters with a two-game losing streak, and guard Naz Long’s hip injury reduces Steve Prohm’s rotation to seven student-athletes. Facilitator Monte Morris (6.9 assists per tilt) also continues to battle a right shoulder ailment he sustained in the regular-season finale against Oklahoma.
Translation: more heavy lifting for Georges Niang. The Cyclones’ first two-time All-American, however, finally faces some competition in the best-individual-talent-on-the-floor department. Iona senior A.J. English is the lone player in Division I who averages more than 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
That arsenal was on full display as the Gaels (22-10) blew past Monmouth in last week’s MAAC title tilt. English could easily find himself embroiled in a mano-a-mano duel with Niang down the stretch of today’s Midwest Region action, but Iona will benefit most from ambushing depth-challenged ISU as a unit. The Big 12 representative’s athleticism should still be enough to move on, though by a razor-thin margin.
THURSDAY NCAA FREE PICK: IONA +8