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Iowa State vs. South Dakota State Expert Pick – March 21, 2024

Iowa State vs. South Dakota State Expert Pick – March 21, 2024

IOWA STATE VS. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE EXPERT PICK – MARCH 21, 2024 – The Iowa State Cyclones (27-7) anchor a loaded east regional in the men’s NCAA tournament as the #2 seed. They will face off against the #15 seeded South Dakota State (22-12) team this Thursday, March 21st at 7:35 pm EST in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Cyclones are a trendy pick to come out of the East region and, for some, to win the entire tournament. They ride on the strength of their defense and have been playing some scorching hot best basketball down the stretch. Some of the hype may be recency bias, as Iowa State torched Houston in the Big 12 tournament last Saturday. Whether Iowa State is peaking at the right time or not remains to be seen, but everyone expects them to handle South Dakota State this Thursday.

Related: Duquesne vs. BYU Pick and Prediction

The Jackrabbits won the Summit League tournament championship and punched their ticket to the big dance. While they dominated in conference play all year, Iowa State represents a major step up for them. The spread (+15.5) reflects this and, even if we all believe the Cyclones will handle SDSU, the proverbial question remains: can the Jackrabbits cover?

Read below for Iowa State vs. South Dakota State Expert Pick – March 21, 2024

The Odds 






South Dakota State

(22-12 SU, 15-13 ATS) 





Iowa State

(27-7 SU, 19-10-2 ATS) 






When: Thursday, March 21 at 7:35 PM EST 

Where: CHI Health Center, Omaha, NE

TV: truTV

Public Bets: Unavailable 

Public Money: Unavailable

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 18th, 2024

Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State is one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, which is why they’ve become such a popular pick to unseat UCONN and come out of the East.

The success of the Cyclones relies on their defense. Iowa State shot up to first overall in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, after a dominating performance against the Houston Cougars last Saturday. They are the best team in country at guarding the rim. They don’t allow teams to penetrate and would rather force opponents to shoot threes than give them anything easy around the rim or in the midrange.

Playing the Cyclones’ defense can be suffocating and the only way to get any breathing room is with a lot of ball movement, patience, and a good outside shot. Then you have to hope it goes in. Good luck grabbing the rebound.

Iowa State plays at a moderately fast pace for a team with a great defense. However, the Cyclones don’t score nearly as well as they defend. KenPom ranks them as 56th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Almost every team that has advanced to the Final Four since 2002 ranks in the top 20 in defensive efficiency and in the top 45 in offensive efficiency. Just something to chew on when you’re thinking about a deep Cyclone run.

The game plan against Iowa State has to be to speed up the pace, knock down outside shots, and defend well enough to keep the game close. Their defense is too good to fall behind. Playing the Cyclones is like stepping in quicksand: the further down you go, the harder it becomes to get back up.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are incredibly overmatched in this game. According to KenPom, SDSU ranks 132nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 164th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Because they play in the Summit League, their strength of schedule is ranked 236th. SDSU’s best performance this year was against Mount St. Mary’s, where they won handily, 80-61. I can’t really see any flagship out-of-conference wins for SDSU this year. They came close to beating UCF in November, but they still lost.

SDSU did play a Big 12 opponent earlier in the year, but Kansas State waxed them, 91-68.

If one of the only effective ways to hang with Iowa State is to shoot threes, then that’s what SDSU plans to do. They average a smidge over 40% in three point shot attempts against average opponents. They shoot 36% from three, so they can make shots, but it’s an entirely different animal to hit threes with consistency against the best defense in the country.

The Pick

Any spread that creeps past 12 in the first round scares me. There is so much at stake and lower-seeded teams can get hot from three to keep the game close.

However, I don’t see the Jackrabbits as a team in contention, either straight up or against the spread. Iowa State is poised to make a deep run and it starts with handling an overmatched 15th seed from the Summit League. In order for SDSU to win (or cover), they will have to out-shoot their average on the three point line and guard the rim well enough to stop the Cyclones front court.

I don’t see anything in SDSU’s metrics or strength of schedule that suggests they can hang with the Cyclones. Don’t overthink this spread too much. Other 14, 15, 16 seeds can hang with their opponents this week, but the Jackrabbits aren’t one of them.

Jack’s Pick

 Iowa State -15.5

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