The Iowa State Cyclones will take on the North Carolina Central Eagles, winners of 20 straight games, in East Region action Friday.
The underdog Eagles will be looking to upset No. 3 Iowa State, which will tip off its third straight tournament appearance as a near double-digit favorite.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Cyclones opened as nine-point favorites; the total was 143.5. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
75-63.1 Iowa State
Why pick NC Central to cover the spread
North Carolina Central beat Morgan State to win the MEAC tournament title and clinch an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
The No. 14 Eagles' chances of pulling off an upset rest squarely on the shoulders of the nation’s 17th-leading scorer, Jeremy Ingram, who averages 20.6 points per game and scored 37 against Wichita State.
Can they make it 21 straight wins and bust up some brackets early?
Why pick Iowa State to cover the spread
Iowa State ended the season in impressive fashion, taking out Kansas State, Kansas and Baylor en route to the Big 12 tournament title and an automatic qualification.
The No. 3 Cyclones are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games as favorites thanks to great ball movement. They lead the nation in assists with 18.5 per game.
Their trend is also to cover spreads early in the tournament (5-2 ATS in openers).
Smart betting pick
Iowa State is on another level athletically and won’t have a problem scoring against the MEAC champs. The Cyclones are the NCAA’s sixth-highest-scoring team, averaging 82.9 points per game, and they should receive little to no resistance from the undersized Eagles, whose leading rebounder, Jay Copeland, stands at 6'7".
Iowa State wins straight up and covers the spread.
North Carolina Central Eagles: No. 46
Iowa State Cyclones: No. 90 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Iowa State 5-1 ATS past six games as favorites
- Iowa State is 6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS in first-round games since 1996
- NC Central won 20 in a row SU, won MEAC championship