Iowa State vs Iowa Odds, Picks and Predictions: Defensive Pressure Keeps Cyclones Close

Iowa State startled Iowa last year, and brings the same defensive intensity that could ruffle the Hawkeyes' feathers tonight. See why our college basketball picks like the road dogs to keep this one close.

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2022 2:34 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Iowa State Hawkeyes
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The No. 20 Iowa State Cyclones head across the state to face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in NCAA basketball action on Thursday night.

This isn't just a rivalry game, it's also an intriguing matchup between opposing styles with Iowa boasting one of the best offenses in the country and ISU playing lockdown D.

Although Iowa is unranked, it sits just outside the AP Top 25 and is expected to take this contest with college basketball odds opening the Hawkeyes as 6.5-point home favorites. Here are my best free Iowa State vs. Iowa college basketball picks and predictions for December 8.

Iowa State vs Iowa best odds

Iowa State vs Iowa picks and predictions

The Cyclones clobbered the Hawkeyes 73-53 last year as 5.5-point underdogs. Although that contest took place in Ames, the fact that they were able to shut down one of the nation's best offenses bodes well for their chances of slowing Iowa tonight.

Especially when you consider that Iowa was led by Kris Murray, and his superior twin brother (a consensus first-team All-American now starting in the NBA) was held to just nine points on 4-17 shooting. 

After a strong start to their year, the Hawkeyes have dropped two of their last three games. Those double-digit losses to TCU and Duke had a similar narrative, with Iowa getting killed on the boards and struggling to knock down shots from the perimeter (going a combined 6-33 from the arc).

While the Cyclones don't have the size to beat them up on the glass, they hold foes to just 26.3% shooting from long range and their ability to pressure ball handlers is unlike anything the Hawkeyes have dealt with this year. 

Although shooting can be inconsistent when teams play on the road, defense tends to travel and ISU is one of the best defensive teams around. The Cyclones are allowing just 81.3 points per 100 possessions (the eighth-best number in the country) and have already shut down efficient offenses like North Carolina, Villanova, and St. John's.

They also play at a slow tempo which should help them keep things much closer than this line suggests. The spread has already shrunk from +6.5 to as low as +3.5, but I'm still leaning toward the road pups. 

My best bet: Iowa State +4 (-110 at bet365)

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Iowa State vs Iowa spread analysis

The Cyclones returned three of their Top-5 scorers from last season's squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 thanks to some terrific defensive play. That lockdown D has continued this season, with Iowa State getting off to a 7-1 start (5-3 ATS) while ranking 13th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. 

Their lone defeat this season came against No. 5 UConn and they boast impressive neutral-site victories against North Carolina and Villanova. In their last contest, they hosted previously unbeaten St. John's and won 71-60, holding the Red Storm to 36% shooting from the field. 

Iowa State has a lineup filled with seniors led by guard Jaren Holmes, who averages 14.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. 

Iowa began the season looking unstoppable on offense, but after winning its first five games, has dropped two of its last three, most recently losing 74-62 to Duke at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Hawkeyes still rank sixth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency while averaging 83.4 ppg. 

Like ISU, the Hawkeyes also have an experienced lineup with four players scoring in double digits. Murray leads the squad in scoring (19.4 ppg) and rebounds (10.1 rpg) while boasting impressive 50/38/80 shooting splits. They have been less impressive on the defensive end of the floor where they rank 75th in adjusted defensive efficiency. 

This contest could hinge on Iowa's ability to take care of the ball, with the Hawkeyes having the lowest turnover rate in the country (12.3%) and the Cyclones boasting the highest opponent turnover rate (29.7%).

The home team has won six of the last seven games in this rivalry matchup while going 4-2-1 ATS during that span.

Iowa State vs Iowa Over/Under analysis

While the Cyclones have been terrific defensively they rank just 113th in adjusted offensive efficiency and have averaged 65.3 ppg in regulation in their last six games.

This is a team that ranks well outside the Top-200 schools in 3-pointers per game (6.3) and 3-point percentage (31.8%) and that, combined with a tempo that ranks 253rd in the country, has led to some low-scoring contests. 

The Hawkeyes are the exact opposite, playing at a much faster pace (their average length of possession of 15.2 seconds is the 12th lowest in the country) and averaging 83.4 ppg.

That said, Iowa's scoring numbers are inflated by a pair of 100-point games against tiny Nebraska-Omaha and North Carolina A&T. In their last four games, they've averaged 70.8 ppg while shooting just 41.4% from the floor.

Iowa State vs Iowa betting trend to know

The Under has gone a sizzling 11-1 in Iowa State's last 12 contests while also cashing in four-straight games for Iowa. Find more College basketball betting trends for Iowa State vs. Iowa.

Iowa State vs Iowa game info

Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, MI
Date: Thursday, December 8, 2022
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1

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