NCAA Tournament Betting: Illinois vs. Iowa State Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Riley Thomas
Riley Thomas_riley8
NCAA Tournament Betting: Illinois vs. Iowa State Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Very few things on the sports calendar can match the excitement and unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament. So why not add betting to the mix via the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook?

The 2024 edition of the big dance has arrived, and here at FanDuel Research, we'll have you covered with a betting guide for each game.

The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Iowa State Cyclones dominated in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Illinois won their first two games by an average margin of 21.0 points while Iowa State emerged victorious by an average margin of 14.0 points.

Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup between the Fighting Illini and Cyclones is must-see TV. This collision features the smallest spread among the eight Sweet Sixteen games. Illinois won the Big Ten Tournament while Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament; these two teams are playing as well as nearly any squad remaining in the field.

Which team looks like the best bet for perhaps the top Sweet 16 game? Let's dive into the stats, followed by an enticing prop pick for Illinois-Iowa State.

All college basketball odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines may change after this article is published.

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Illinois vs. Iowa State Betting Odds

Date and Time: Thursday, March 28th, 10:09 p.m. ET

Spread: Iowa State -1.5 (-102)

Total: 145.5


  • Iowa State: -114
  • Illinois: -105

Illinois vs. Iowa State Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.


  • numberFire Ranking: 10th
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 13th
  • KenPom Ranking: 10th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 92nd
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 1st
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 70th

Iowa State

  • numberFire Ranking: 8th
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 4th
  • KenPom Ranking: 7th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 1st
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 49th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 206th

Illinois vs. Iowa State Best Bet

Illinois Moneyline (-105)

This is about as good as it gets for a Sweet 16 matchup. A red-hot 3 seed takes on a rolling 2 seed. These are two true contenders to win the East region and move on to the Final Four. Of course, Connecticut is the clear favorite to win the region (-230), but Illinois (+600) and Iowa State (+420) still have decent odds to win, per FanDuel's college basketball Final Four odds.

The elephant in the room is the Illini's offense going against the Cyclones' defense. This is a Titanic-sized clash between the nation's top offense and defense. Both units have been on display in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois has totaled 87.0 points per game (PPG) while shooting 56.8% from the field, and Iowa State has held opponents to 60.5 PPG and a 43.3% field goal percentage (FG%).

While the Cyclones' defense certainly strikes fear into the opposition, I believe that the Fighting Illini have enough to find success on offense. Only 23.9% of opponents' shots are close twos against Iowa State (the best mark in the nation). Additionally, the Cyclones are in the 97th percentile in two-point shots and makes allowed per game and opponent two-point percentage.

So where is ISU vulnerable, if at all? Opponents attempt 45.0% of their field goals from three against Iowa State (bottom 2% for defense). The Cyclones also surrender 23.2 three-point attempts per contest (bottom 30%). Illinois tends to lean on their two-point attack (91st percentile in two-point makes per game), but they are also a capable team from three.

The Illini are in the 69th percentile in three-point attempts and makes per game and three-point percentage. We saw them light it up from deep in the first round, draining 12 of 26 shots from three (46.2%). Slowing Terrence Shannon Jr. (23.3 PPG) will likely be Iowa State's biggest concern. The senior guard has been producing at an absurd rate, totaling 32.5 PPG over his last four contests while shooting 44.8% from three.

I'm not sure if any defense can slow the Fighting Illini's offense right now. Illinois has the three-point shooting to stretch the Cyclones' defense, potentially leading to more points.

This contest will also likely be a battle of pace. The Illini want to get out and run in a quick-paced game, while ISU would love an ugly, defensive contest.

Illinois ranks in the 84th percentile in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Iowa State is outside the top 200 in defensive rebounding percentage. I'm worried about the Cyclones getting crushed on the glass. The Fighting Illini have won the rebound battle by an average margin of +8.5 in the tournament, while ISU is only at +1.0.

If Illinois is dominating the glass, this only aids their chances of playing a fast-paced game with more points than the Cyclones are comfortable with. I like the Illini's chances of winning this one outright.

Illinois vs. Iowa State Prop Bet

Quincy Guerrier To Record 6+ Rebounds (+260)

Quincy Guerrier has been a wild card for virtually the entire season. The senior forward averages 24.3 minutes per game and played for only 12 minutes in the first round against Morehead State. But when Guerrier is on, he adds plenty of value to Illinois as a solid rebounder and three-point shooter.

He leads the Illini with 6.2 rebounds per game (RPG) and ranks second on the team with a 38.0% three-point percentage. What Guerrier does best is exactly what Illinois could need against Iowa State -- rebounding and three-point shooting.

With that said, I believe Guerrier will get enough minutes to make his impact felt on Thursday. He comes off a solid outing with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Even with his playing time under 30.0 minutes per game, Guerrier has still managed to lead the team with a 19.2% defensive rebounding percentage. His 8.2% offensive rebounding percentage is the second-best mark on the Fighting Illini.

Backing any prop for Guerrier is certainly risky due to his streaky play, but recording six rebounds (+260) feels like it's within reach. This matchup seems to fit Guerrier's strengths, and the Illini could really focus on attempting to dominate the glass. Having their leading rebounder frequently on the floor would make sense.

Guerrier averages over 6.0 rebounds this season. Hitting six rebounds is simply not that far-fetched, and the +260 odds make the pick too good to pass on.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.