Despite losing six of their last seven games, the Hawkeyes are still attracting sharp money from betting syndicates for their opening game against Tennessee in the NCAA tournament. In fact, Iowa opened as 1.5-point underdogs off shore (via BetOnline) before getting hit with a massive amount of professional money. Now, the Hawkeyes are listed as 2.5-point favorites at the majority of off shore sports books as of Tuesday afternoon.
Iowa enters postseason play with a very good offense that is averaging 82.0 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 67.5 points per game, thereby making the Hawkeyes 14.5 points per game better than average offensively this season. However, those numbers need to be placed in proper context as the Hawkeyes are averaging just 74.0 points over their last five games and seem to have lost something at the offensive end of the floor.
Tennessee matches up well against Iowa as the Volunteers possess a very good defense that is allowing 61.1 points per game to teams that combine to average 70.6 points per game. Even more impressive is the fact that the Volunteers have limited opponents to a mere 47.4 points over the last five games (32.9% FG; 25.3% 3-PT). Overall, Tennessee is 9.5 points per game better than average defensively, which still gives the Hawkeyes a 5.0 points per game advantage offensively in this game.
The problem for Tennessee this season has been a pedestrian offense that is 2.7 points per game better than average (71.3 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.6 points per game). The Volunteers are also 7-9 SU and 7-9 ATS on the road where they are averaging just 65.7 points per game on 41.7% shooting from the field. Despite a lack of success at the offensive end of the floor, the Volunteers still possess a 2.6 points per game advantage over Iowa’s stop unit.
Tonight’s game also presents an interesting motivational angle for the Hawkeyes. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery will be spending Wednesday afternoon with his 13-year-old son, Patrick, who is having surgery to remove a thyroid tumor. Iowa players will show their support for Patrick by wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “P-Mac.” From a technical standpoint, Iowa is 20-9 ATS versus teams with a win percentage between .600 and .800 and 17-8 ATS versus non-conference opponents, whereas the Volunteers are 33-52 ATS in neutral court games and 29-52 ATS in all tournament games since 1997.
Pro Edge Sports Pick: Iowa (ML) (-140)