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Illinois vs. Iowa State Expert Pick – March 28, 2024

Illinois vs. Iowa State Expert Pick – March 28, 2024

ILLINOIS VS. IOWA STATE EXPERT PICK – MARCH 28, 2024 – The only 2-3 matchup on Thursday’s Sweet Sixteen slate is between Illinois and Iowa State.

They must travel a similar distance to play at TD Garden in Boston, but both should have plenty of time to adjust. They will be the final game on Thursday, scheduled to start at 10:09 p.m. EST on TBS and truTV. The clash of two styles should make an exciting, action-packed game.

Check out the Godzilla Wins Daily Staff Picks page.

Related: Sweet 16 Power Rankings

The Odds 







(25-8 SU) 





Iowa State

(27-7 SU)






When: Thursday, March 28 at 10:09 p.m. EST 

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA


Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 27th, 2024

Illinois vs. Iowa State Head-To-Head

Illinois won the Big 10 title with a win over Wisconsin, and they routed both opponents through the first two rounds. They opened the tournament with an 85 to 69 victory over Morehead State and followed it up with an 89 to 63 rout over Duquesne. Terrence Shannon Jr. leads this team, averaging 31.6 points per game since the end of the regular season. He has made 54.2% of his field goals in that span and has been the pulse of this Fighting Illini team.

Iowa State won the Big 12 title, so this will be a matchup of conference tournament winners. They beat Houston 69 to 41 in the conference title game, which was one of the most impressive wins throughout the entire season for any team. They rolled over South Dakota State in the first round and beat Washington State 67 to 56 in the second round. T.J. Otzelberger has this team playing some of their best ball of the season and will have them ready for a tough test.

Illinois vs. Iowa State In-Season Trends

This matchup is the ultimate clash of styles. Illinois is the number one ranked team in offensive adjusted efficiency, and Iowa State is the first-ranked team in defensive adjusted efficiency, according to KenPom. The Cyclones have a slight edge in the turnover battle, though. They average 10.3 steals per game, while Illinois only generates 4.3 per game. Both teams average about 10 turnovers per game, so the Cyclones should have an edge if they can take care of the ball on offense.

The Fighting Illini must get to the free-throw line against this defense. The Cyclones allow 34.3 free throw attempts per field goal attempt, which ranks 229th in the nation. They also allow teams to grab 8.4 offensive rebounds per game. Illinois averages 11.2 offensive boards per game, so they must take advantage of the free throw attempts and second-chance opportunities, or the Cyclones will suffocate them defensively.

Related: Alabama vs. North Carolina Pick and Prediction

When Iowa State has the ball, they rank 49th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and Illinois ranks 92nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Cyclones score 54.4% of their points from inside the arc and 19.1% from the line. They could have a little more success from three-point range in this matchup.

Illinois allows opponents to make 34.3% of threes, and they do not generate steals. Another stat that could make a huge difference is the amount of field goal attempts they allow opponents. Teams shoot an average of 63.9 field goals per game, and the Cyclones only allow teams to shoot 51.4 attempts per game, which ranks fifth in the country. Illinois must be efficient with their field goal attempts to advance to the Elite Eight.

The Pick

This game is the perfect nightcap for the first day of the Sweet Sixteen. It should be a back-and-forth affair between two high-level teams playing their best basketball of the season. It will be a test of offense versus defense, and I am siding with the dominant defense. Terrence Shannon will be hard to stop, but they must contain him. Also, the turnover battle will be crucial for Iowa State. It will be a difficult game to win if they do not force more turnovers than Illinois.

Trent’s Picks

Iowa State -1.5


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