Iowa State Cyclones vs Wisconsin Badgers– NCAA Tournament March 20, 2022

Just when it started to feel like the opening round madness was going to calm down, the Peacocks of St. Peter’s reminded us all why the NCAA tournament is the greatest sporting event on the planet. Last night, the 15th seeded Peacocks took down a 30-win Murray State team, and similar to their opening round win over Kentucky, this wasn’t at a fluky win, as St. Peter’s led throughout and took the game without much of a sweat.

The Peacocks become only the 3rd team ever to survive the first weekend of the NCAA tournament as a 15-seed, following Florida Gulf Coast and Oral Roberts, and while I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think they could beat Kentucky or Murray State, this team has proven me wrong, and whichever team they face next weekend in the Sweet 16 better watch out, as the Peacocks just might be something special.

St. Peter’s wasn’t the only team to pull off shocking upsets yesterday, as the North Carolina Tar Heels built up a 25-point lead and held on in overtime to eliminate the top-seeded Baylor Bears in a thriller, ending the Bear’s bid for back-to-back national titles. The 11th seeded Michigan Wolverines, a team that many people felt shouldn’t even have gotten into the Big Dance, continued to impress, as they sent the Tennessee Volunteers home with a 76-68 final score.

The rest of the top seeds held out yesterday, but it wasn’t easy! Kansas got a run for their money from Creighton, as the Blue Jays were within striking distance all game long before eventually coming up just short. Arkansas needed everything that they had to hold off New Mexico State, and the tournament’s number one overall seed, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before closing on a furious run to win and advance to their 7th consecutive Sweet 16, with a hard-fought win over Memphis.

It was yet another exciting day of NCAA Men’s Basketball, and with today being the final day of the opening weekend, we have even more action in store for you! Today’s slate includes double-digit seeds Miami, Notre Dame, and Iowa State that are all looking to join St. Peter’s as this year’s Cinderella that can make a deep run to the Final Four. With that, let’s get right after it today, in search of max value, as we head to the Midwest Region for the game between the 11th seeded Cyclones of Iowa State and the 3-seed Badgers of Wisconsin.

Iowa State Cyclones (21-12)

If you ask me, Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger is the runaway winner for national coach of the year, as he has led his Cyclones to the greatest 1-year turnaround in NCAA Division 1 basketball history. The Cyclones won just 2 games last year, and this year they have already racked up 21 wins and they will play today with a chance at making it to the Sweet 16. And it’s not like Otzelberger turned things around in some small league like the SWAC, he did this in the Big 12!

Oh, and did I mention that Iowa State played the 11th toughest schedule in the country this year? What has happened in Ames this season is one of the best turnaround stories of all time, and I am shocked that we aren’t hearing more about it in the mainstream media. The Cyclones have a collection of quality wins with wins over elite teams like Iowa, Texas Tech, and Texas and top-100 wins over LSU, Xavier, Memphis, Crieghton, Oklahoma State, TCU, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Kansas State.

There aren’t many teams in the nation that wouldn’t trade wins with Iowa State and that has the Cyclones battle-tested and primed for another upset today against Wisconsin. Iowa State wins games by playing elite defense, 8th best in the nation in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom, and their success really boils down to one thing, effort.

These guys play their butts off on every possession and they will not be outworked. Otzelberger rose to prominence by taking the South Dakota State Jackrabbits to back-to-back NCAA tournaments, and even after his departure, SD State has remained one of the top mid-major programs in the country. In his first year at the helm of the Cyclones, he has quickly turned Iowa State into a program on the rise as well, and I am excited for what is to come for this team over the course of the next several years under his leadership.

Wisconsin Badgers (25-7)

The Big 10 was nasty this year, as basically the entire league was either elite, or at the minimum, pretty good, which makes the fact that Wisconsin took home a share of the Big 10 regular season title, a major accomplishment. The Badgers were on track to snag an even higher seed than the 3-seed they ended up with, before a late-season skid dropped them down a notch. A quick glance at Wisconsin’s full body of work tells me that this is a team that could cut down the nets at the Final Four in New Orleans.

The Badgers boast top-50 wins over Texas A&M, Houston, St. Mary’s, Indiana (twice), Purdue (twice), Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan on their resume, giving them one of the most impressive records in the country. Until their last game of the regular season, all of their losses came to teams that ended up playing in the NCAA tournament, and while it took a little bit of time for the public to catch on to just how good this team actually was this year, they did find themselves ranked in the top-10 in the AP poll late in the season.

Now, let’s talk about that finish to the year, that left a lot of people, myself included, scratching our heads and wondering what happened. All the Badgers had to do to win the outright Big 10 regular season title was beat Nebraska at home in the regular season finale. The Cornhuskers were 3-16 in Big 10 play entering that contest and it felt like it was a foregone conclusion that Wisconsin was going to win the game, and lock up the Big 10 title, and the top seed in the Big 10 conference tournament along the way.

But that just didn’t happen, as Wisconsin fell apart late in the game and gave it away. Nebraska stunned the Badgers, and I am not sure that they have looked the same ever since. In their next game, in the Big 10 tournament, they again played poorly late in the game and lost to what was a bubble team at the time in Michigan State.

After winning 24 of their first 29 games of the season, the Badgers lost their last 2 games prior to the start of the NCAA tournament. That late-season hangover almost cost them their season as well, as they needed a big finish to survive Colgate in their opening game of the madness, needing a late run to close out the 14-seed Raiders in a tightly contested affair.

Iowa State Cyclones vs Wisconsin Badgers Betting Odds And Team Statistics

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
Iowa State Cyclones +4.5 (-110) +160 Over 126 (-110)
Wisconsin Badgers -4.5(-110) -190 Under 126 (-110)
Team Data Iowa State Cyclones Wisconsin Badgers
Overall Record 22-12 25-7
ATS Record 18-15 17-15
Points Per Game 77.1 79.3
Points Against Per Game 66.7 66.3
Field Goal % 43.6% 42.5%
Three Point % 32.1% 31.4%

Iowa State Cyclones vs Wisconsin Badgers Prediction:

This line opened up with Wisconsin as -3-point favorites. You could argue that the opening number was already a bit inflated for the Badgers, as Kenpom has them winning this game by just a single point. It is exceedingly rare that we see a line open up a full 2 points off of what the data is telling us, and even at that number, a play on the Cyclones showed high value. But the public has done what they almost always seem to do, and that is they got on the wrong side of this matchup, moving what was already a square line, even further in the wrong direction.

This line is now sitting at Wisconsin -4.5-points, and I am shocked that I can get Iowa State with more than a full possession’s worth of points. So many of these games in this year’s tournament have come down to the final few possessions to be decided, and this number feels far too high for a game that is sure to be uber-competitive.

Iowa State Cyclones vs Wisconsin Badgers Betting Trends:

Iowa State Cyclones
  • Iowa State is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games against an opponent in the Big Ten conference
  • Iowa State is 1-11 SU in their last 12 games played in March
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Iowa State’s last 5 games played on a Sunday
  • Iowa State is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing as the underdog
Wisconsin Badgers
  • Wisconsin is 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Wisconsin’s last 5 games
  • Wisconsin is 15-5 SU in their last 20 games.
  • Wisconsin is 6-2 SU in their last 8 games this season
  • Wisconsin is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games played in March

When you throw in how Wisconsin stumbled to the finish line of the regular season, and how the Badgers just haven’t played very well in the last couple of weeks, the Badgers are going to be on upset alert tonight. I do think that Wisconsin is likely going to find a way to win this game, as it is essentially a home game for them, being played in Milwaukee, but I am not sure anybody would be all that shocked if the Cyclones stole this game. To put it lightly, Iowa State beating Wisconsin won’t be St. Peter’s beating Kentucky and nobody is going to see this as some major upset.

This is going to be a physical game where both teams fight hard, and nothing will come easy. We are going to have a dog fight on our hands tonight as both of these teams played brutal schedules, against lots of elite teams playing in the Big 10 and Big 12, and neither team is going to want to back down. Expect this game to be tied heading into the final few minutes of action, and if the ball bounces the Cyclones way, they could shock the world and punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.

If the ball bounces the Badger’s way, we will be happy we picked up more points than we deserved, which should be plenty to cash our bet on Iowa State. Give me the Cyclones and the four and a half in what should be a barnburner of a contest tonight from the Midwest Region!


Iowa State Cyclones vs Wisconsin Badgers Pick
Iowa State Cyclones (+4.5)
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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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