Representing the # 1 and # 4 seeds of the Midwestern bracket, the Virginia Cavaliers will take on the Iowa State Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday night. Iowa State advanced with an impressive 78-61 win over the 13th seeded Arkansas Little Rock. This is Iowa State’s second trip to the Sweet Sixteen in the last 3 years as they made it in 2014. Virginia needed a second half comeback against the 9th seeded Butler Bulldogs to move on. Trailing 25-23 at halftime, Virginia shot 73 percent in the second half making 14 of its first 16 shots to pull away.
Iowa State had 2 players score in double figures in the win over Arkansas Little Rock but it was senior forward Georges Niang who led the way with 28 points 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Niang holds several school records including most wins with 97 and is the only player in school history to be a two-time All-American. Matt Thomas is a junior guard who scored 16 points and had 4 rebounds and 4 assists. As a team they made 40 of their 53 field goal attempts to shoot 57% including 11 for 21 on three-pointers. Defensively, the held Arkansas Little Rock to 37% shooting and they won the turnover battle by committing 6 while forcing 8. If there was a negative in this game for Iowa State, it is that they were outrebounded 32-31.
Virginia also had 2 players score in double figures in their win over Butler but it was Malcolm Brogdon who filled up the stat sheet with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block. Brogdon is one of 4 finalists for the 2016 Naismith Trophy which is given to the top player in men’s college basketball. Senior forward Anthony Gill also had a big game with 19 points and 8 rebounds. They were able to win the rebounding battle 32 to 22 but they lost the turnover battle by committing 9 and only forcing 4. They also shot poorly from three-point range making 2 of their 10 attempts but made 81 percent of their free-throws going 17-21. Marial Shayok came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 3 rebounds in 25 minutes. Their defense couldn’t stop Andrew Chrabascz who exploded for 25 points and made all 4 of his three-point attempts.
Virginia has gone 17-14-2 against the spread this year including 15-12-2 as the favorite. Iowa State has gone 16-13-3 against the spread this year and is 3-3-1 as the underdog. Iowa State averaged over 81 points per game this year while Virginia only averaged 70. However, Virginia held their opponents to an average of 57 points while Iowa State allows their opponents to average 71 points per game. Virginia is favored by 6 points in this matchup and although Iowa State looked impressive so far, they beat the 12th and 13th seeded teams and have their hands full with the # 1 seeded Virginia.
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