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Iowa State vs Illinois Sweet 16 Picks for College Basketball Tourney

A pair of conference tournament champions square off in the semifinals of the East Region on Thursday night as Iowa State takes on Illinois in Boston. The Cyclones are a slight favorite in the game, giving 1½ points on a point-spread bet, and coach T.J. Otzelberger’s squad is one of the NCAAB expert picks to move into the Elite Eight with a win.

Second-seeded Iowa State, the Big 12 tournament champion, has had a pretty easy road to the Sweet 16, topping South Dakota State and Washington State, each by double-digits. Big Ten tournament champion Illinois, the third seed in the region, has also cruised to Thursday’s showdown, routing Morehead State and Duquesne to advance to its first Sweet 16 since 2005.

Iowa State vs Illinois Picks for College Basketball Tourney Sweet 16
Iowa State vs Illinois Picks for College Basketball Tourney Sweet 16


Game Information

  • Game: Iowa State (29-7) vs Illinois (28-8)
  • Date/Time: Thursday, March 28, 10:09 p.m. ET
  • Location: TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
  • Iowa State vs Illinois Live Stream: TBS.com


Illinois has an 11-3 edge in the all-time series between these two teams, though Iowa State has won the last two meetings, both on neutral floors, in 2015 and 2018. The college basketball odds favor the Cyclones to make it three in a row over the Illini, with Iowa State giving 1½ points to Illinois. The over/under for this contest has been set at 146 points.


Iowa State vs Illinois Odds and Spreads


  • Iowa State is 5-0 ATS in its last five neutral-site games.
  • Illinois is 3-3 as an underdog this season.
  • The under is 8-0-1 in the Fighting Illini’s last nine NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
  • The Cyclones are 4-0 ATS in their last four games following a straight-up win.
  • Illinois is 21-13-2 ATS this season.
  • The over is 5-0 in the Fighting Illini’s last five games as an underdog.
  • Iowa State is 24-3 as the favorite this season.
  • The over is 26-10-0 in Illinois’ 36 games in 2023-24.


Over/Under Pick: Over 146

This game is going to be a clash of styles, with Iowa State one of the better defensive teams in the country, ranking fourth with its 61.2 points per game allowed. Illinois is one of the more explosive teams in the nation, scoring 84.6 points per game to rank ninth. The Cyclones have been fantastic defensively over their last five games, holding opponents to 56.2 points per contest.


It’s going to be hard to shut down the Illini, however, who have been pushing the ball up the floor and have one of the hottest scorers in the country in guard Terrence Shannon Jr. The senior is averaging 31.6 points over five games in the Big Ten tournament and NCAA Tournament and is the main reason we think you should take the over when you’re betting online.



ATS Pick Prediction: Iowa State -1½

This is basically a pick on who will win to advance, and we like the Cyclones to do just that. This contest is going to be close throughout, but Iowa State has shown the ability to take down tough opponents, defeating Houston twice this season. The Cyclones can score the basketball, averaging 75.6 points, but they prefer to win games with their defense.

Illinois relies mainly on Shannon to create offense, though forward Marcus Domask is also dangerous, averaging 16.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Still, Iowa State should be able to slow down the main Illinois offensive threats and score just enough to justify the March Madness odds and win this contest to advance to its first Elite Eight since 2000.



Player Prop Pick: Terrence Shannon Jr. Over 21½ Points (-109)

Iowa State is a great defensive team, but it is going to face one of the hottest players in the country in Shannon. The senior can score from long range with his shooting, but also loves to bull his way to the basket and draw fouls, both in the halfcourt and when out on the break. His versatility makes him very hard to guard.

The Cyclones will be focused on limiting Shannon, but we like him to hit the over in this game, even if he doesn’t dominate like he has in recent weeks. The over for his individual scoring is an NCAAB best bet that you should include in your wagering on this game.



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Score Prediction

Iowa State 79, Illinois 74



Questions Of The Day

Have Iowa State and Illinois faced each other before?

Illinois has an 11-3 edge in the all-time series between these schools, though Iowa State has won the last two meetings.

Who does the winner of the Iowa State vs Illinois game face next?

The winner of this contest advances to the East Region final on Saturday, where it will face either Connecticut or San Diego State.

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