Cyclones threaten to swallow Trojans
Arkansas-Little Rock required two overtimes to stun fifth-seeded Purdue in the second round of the NCAA tourney, and the going only grows tougher this evening.
The upstart Trojans will take on fourth-seeded Iowa State at 6:10 p.m. ET in Midwest Region action. Not surprisingly, online sports book BetDSI lists the Cyclones as 6.5-point favorites.
Having already knocked off a Big 10 heavyweight, though, Little Rock has no reservations about confronting one of the Big 12’s titans. Chris Beard’s team rallied from a 13-point deficit late in regulation en route to vanquishing the Boilermakers. Senior guard Josh Hagins led the charge with a career-high 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Iowa State boasts its own statistical nightmare up front. Six-foot-8 forward Georges Niang is the lone player in the nation averaging 20 points and six rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line. On Thursday, he took it upon himself to ensure that Ames’ finest wouldn’t reprise last year’s opening-round defeat.
Of course, all five starters reached double figures in that 94-81 triumph over Iona. The Trojans don’t come equipped with such balance. If Hagins is unable to produce another offensive symphony, Little Rock will find itself in a woeful spot indeed.
While not without their problems, the Cyclones appear to have discarded many of the foibles that marked an up-and-down conference schedule. Niang and his cohorts can smell a second Sweet 16 appearance in three seasons, and they’re unlikely to stray from said path.
SATURDAY NCAA FREE PICK: IOWA STATE -6.5