Iowa State vs. Oklahoma Pick NCAA Hoops – Jan 2nd

It’s a monster day of college hoops today with great action in the Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big Twelve. And if it is anything like last night’s Pac 12 start, we could be in for a wild ride. Two of the Pac 12’s favorites both lost on the road to unranked opponents, with UCLA losing a wild 96-93 shootout at Washington and Utah falling in overtime at Stanford (nice day for the folks in Palo Alto, huh?) Today a lot of lesser foes face a similar situation/opportunity. Clemson hosts Florida State, Duquesne hosts Dayton, Creighton hosts Villanova, Minnesota hosts Michigan State and Nebraska hosts Indiana. Meanwhile in Big Twelve country, Texas Tech hosts Texas, Kansas State hosts West Virginia and Oklahoma hosts Iowa State in the game’s marquee matchup.

There’s a ton of great hoops to choose from, so let’s see if we can begin a nice 2016 long-overdue winning streak.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Sooners -8

Oklahoma is the best team in the country no one knows about. Buddy Hield should be no worse than 1A on a ballot with Kris Dunn for National Player of the Year. The Bahamian sensation is averaging 24.9 points per game and has notched over 30 in three of his last five games. And he is far from a one-man gang. Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard are scoring with stunning shooting efficiency, shooting 48.2 and 51.5% respectively from the floor. Isiah Cousins is a mature and responsible floor leader (and a nice defender), and they rebound and defend as a team. This is a really, really nice ballclub.

But so is Iowa State. I don’t care about the Iowa and Northern Iowa games. Those were rivalry games and bound to be intense. This team is really, really good. They have a Final Four lineup and have tons of experience at every position and the extra fuel of a crushing upset loss in last year’s NCAA tournament to UAB (#14 seed) add some fuel. Georges Niang doesn’t have Buddy Love’s stats, but he is an All American candidate nonetheless. The senior does a little bit of everything, averaging 18.8/6.7/3.4. He also averages a steal and a block a night and does it all on 53.5% shooting from the floor. He is one of the best all-around players in the nation. Jameel McKay is a ferocious an offensive rebounder as I have seen play this year – not just grabbing boards but tipping basketballs to keep them alive for extended possessions. He is good for 8-10 points a night just keeping possessions alive.

The hidden ingredient for Iowa State is the long-range shooting and offense creation of newly-inserted starter Matt Thomas. He is shooting 42.6% from deep and while the loss of Mitrou-Long has hurt the team’s depth and defense a bit, they now throw a different look at teams with additional shooting (Mitrou-Long shot just 27% from deep) threats which makes them even more explosive in transition.

This has the potential to be one of the most entertaining games of the year. Both teams score quickly and efficiently and aren’t afraid to crank up the tempo. 163 sounds like a TON of points in a college game, but I think this one will be a game where both teams are up in the 80’s with ease. Look for a real fun shootout between two of the six or seven best teams in the nation. I have two picks on this game – one is for a TON of offense. These teams average a combines 174 points a game. The other is Iowa State to NOT get blown out. I am not opposed to Iowa State as a nice +330 flyer. That’s great value. But either way, eight points is a huge lay down for two teams as evenly matched as this.

Free Picks: TOTAL POINTS OVER 163 & Iowa State Cyclones +8