Illinois vs. Iowa State March Madness Preview and Prediction

In a No. 3 vs. No. 2 matchup in the NCAA Tournament East Region, the Illinois Fighting Illini face the Iowa State Cyclones in Sweet 16 action.

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How to Watch Illinois vs. Iowa State

When: 10:09 p.m. ET on Thursday March 28

Where: TD Garden in Boston, MA

Watch: TBS/truTV

Odds for Illinois vs. Iowa State

(odds current at time of publish)

Spread: Iowa State -2.5

Total: 146.5

DraftKings Betting Splits | Live College Basketball Odds | Illinois vs. Iowa State Matchup

East Region No. 3 Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois felt a little underappreciated heading into March Madness, which might have something to do with the team losing both of its high-profile games against Purdue. But the Fighting Illini have some serious talent, with Terrence Shannon Jr., Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins being one of the better trios in the nation — and Dain Dainja emerging as a monster. Illinois is just a wild combination of efficient and explosive offensively. And the team can score in a number of different ways, which is never bad when the game slows down. The question with the Illini is whether they can consistently get enough stops to make a deep run in this tournament. Their defense left a lot to be desired throughout the season.

East Region No. 2 Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State is one of the most interesting teams in the field. The Cyclones played a really soft nonconference schedule, but they proved their mettle by earning wins over Houston (twice) and Kansas during the regular season. And Iowa State is a team that defends like hell and does it in a smart way. The Cyclones work hard to prevent opponents from getting good looks from 3, instead opting to force them into tough 2s. They also force turnovers at a higher rate than anybody in the country. Iowa State’s only real issue is that the offense is rather pedestrian. The Cyclones don’t have anybody that can really be relied on to get buckets late in the game. It’s seemingly somebody different every night, but you want a safety valve in this type of tournament. But Iowa State’s offense was good enough to beat Houston’s elite defense, so the Cyclones have proven they can take anyone down.

Illinois vs. Iowa State Preview & Prediction

The top two seeds in the bottom of the East Region did what they needed to do to set up a Sweet 16 matchup in Boston. Illinois and Iowa State have both handled their affairs with a couple of double-digit wins in the NCAA Tournament and now battle it out for the right to head to the Elite Eight.

Illinois flexed their muscles in resounding fashion with a 26-point win over upstart Duquesne in the Round of 32, while Iowa State had some dicey moments and went into the intermission tied at 27 with Washington State before pulling away in the second half. The burning question for bettors and pundits here will be whether or not this is the spot where Iowa State’s noticeable home/away splits end up rearing their ugly heads or if that is a thing of the past for the Cyclones.

With five straight wins by comfortable margins in neutral settings, the Cyclones may have quelled some of those “AFH” – away from home – worries, as they’ve conquered the Big 12 Tournament field and bested a couple of NCAA Tournament teams. It will be interesting to see if Iowa State can slow down Illinois, who has scored 1.113, 1.287, 1.366, 1.333, and 1.426 points per possession over the last five games, including three wins in three days in the Big Ten Tournament.

These are two teams playing at a very high level right now, especially Iowa State on defense, as they’ve held 10 straight opponents under a point per possession. Illinois, meanwhile, has allowed over a point per possession to 11 of their last 12 opponents.

What this game boils down to is whether you prefer Iowa State’s defense or Illinois’s offense.

Estimated Score: Coming Soon.

For expert predictions, go to our college basketball best bets page.