Friday, March 21, 8:50 PM on TNT
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Opening Lines & Odds - Iowa State -8.5 -- Over/Under: 144
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Since 1986 there have been 17 upsets of the #3 seed by the #14 seed and the red hot NC Central Eagles (28-5) are poised to make it 18. Iowa State (26-7) is on a mini run of their own after plowing through the Big 12 Conference Tournament and oddsmakers suggest the Cyclones may have an easier time with this opening round than expected by placing them as 8.5 point favorites.
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There's no doubt that NC Central is on a run, having won their last 20 games. Granted there's quite a big difference between Iowa State's 25th ranked strength of schedule and NC Central's 343rd but a team that knows how to just win games is always dangerous. This is the first ever tournament for the Eagles after playing Division 1 ball for only 4 seasons. Despite their poor strength of schedule NC Central has played high caliber games against tournament teams Wichita State (66-77 loss) and Cincinnati (61-74 loss) in which senior guard Jeremy Ingram scored 37 and 27 points respectably. In an 82-72 win over NC State, Ingram dropped 29 points and will be a significant force if the Eagles can get a W over ISU.
It's the third straight tournament appearance for the Cyclones, who have been knocked out in the round of 32 in the last two. The nation's 6th leading scoring offense that ranked #1 in assists per game looks for a much deeper run this year behind coach Fred Hoiberg. Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim leads the balanced attack that features four players in double figure scoring.
Iowa State is 16-15-0 ATS this season
Iowa State is 15-12-1 against the over/under this season
North Carolina Central is 2-2-0 ATS this season
North Carolina Central is 0-1-0 against the over/under this season
Injuries to Watch
12/31/13 F Abdel Nader Eligibility out for season
12/31/13 G K.J. Bluford Personal has left team
North Carolina Central
No injuries to report at this time
Josh's Pick: Take Iowa State
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