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Iowa State Cyclones vs. Miami Hurricanes Prediction: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Miami Hurricanes Prediction: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Cyclones, Hurricanes meet in Chicago to see which double-digit seed advances to the Elite Eight

Two unlikely teams have a chance to secure an Elite Eight trip on Friday.

The 11th-seeded Iowa State Cyclones will meet the 10th-seeded Miami Hurricanes in a Midwest Region semifinal at the United Center in Chicago.

Iowa State (22-12) knocked off No. 6 LSU and followed that up with a bigger upset, defeating No. 3 Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Both of the Cyclones' NCAA Tournament wins have been by five points.

Miami (25-10) also is making the most of its first tournament appearance since 2018. The Hurricanes held on to beat No. 7 USC last Friday and then dominated No. 2 Auburn (79-61) to advance to the Sweet 16. 

This is Miami's fourth Sweet 16 appearance, but the Canes have never advanced to the Elite Eight. Iowa State's last time in the Elite Eight came back in 2000.

Midwest Region: No. 11 Iowa State (22-12) vs. No. 10 Miami Hurricanes (25-10)

Time: Friday, March 25 at 9:59 p.m. ET (approximately)
Where: United Center (Chicago)
Spread: Miami -2.5

Keys for Iowa State

Izaiah Brockington, a first-team All-Big 12 selection has been Iowa State's best player this season, leading the team in both scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 per game) while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from the 3-point line. But in Sunday's big win over Wisconsin, it was another Cyclone who rose to the occasion.

Gabe Kalscheur made several clutch shots, finishing the game with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting in the 54-49 victory. Points were hard to come by against the Badgers, and Kalscheur's big effort came at the perfect time considering the rest of the team shot just 10-for-39 (25.6 percent) from the field.

Iowa State will need contributions from Kalscheur, Brockington, and freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter (10.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) against a Miami team that held both USC and Auburn below their season scoring averages.

The Cyclones have been a pretty strong defensive team throughout this season, ranking 20th in the nation in points allowed per game (62.3). They also are ninth in defending the 3-pointer (28.7 percent) and 13th in turnovers forced (16.7 per game). Iowa State produced 19 turnovers (Hunter had five steals) in the opening win against LSU. If the Cyclones can maintain their defensive intensity this has a chance to be a low-scoring game, which is what they prefer.

Keys for Miami

Miami will need to force Iowa State into tough shots. The Cyclones are not a great shooting team, connecting on 43.4 percent of their shots overall and only 31.9 percent on 3-pointers. Their long-range shots definitely weren't falling against Wisconsin, as ISU went just 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc.

However, the Cyclones have several shooters that are capable of getting hot at any moment. In the win over the Badgers, it was Kalscheur. Against LSU in the first round, it was Hunter. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year knocked down seven of 11 3-pointers on his way to scoring 23 of the team's 59 points. Brockington also can score points in bunches if he gets into a rhythm. So the Hurricanes will need to focus on those three and make sure they don't get open looks, especially early.

Another key to Miami's success in the Tournament has been taking care of the basketball, which is essential against Iowa State's harassing defense. The Hurricanes have committed a total of seven turnovers in their first two Tournament wins compared to 31 combined by USC and Auburn.

Miami's depth could help the Canes find a way to overcome or possibly tire out the Cyclones' defense. Miami has four players who average double digits in Kameron McGusty (17.5 ppg), Isaiah Wong (15.5), Charlie Moore (12.8), and Jordan Miller (10.1). Wong has been the leading scorer thus far with 43 points in the first two games, including being almost perfect (13-for-14) from the free-throw line.

The Hurricanes should have enough scoring punch to test Iowa State's defense.

Final Analysis

Iowa State has already been in some tight games, beating LSU and Wisconsin by five points apiece. But the Cyclones know they will need a better all-around effort if they are going to beat Miami and advance to the Elite Eight.

After edging USC, the Hurricanes dominated No. 2-seed Auburn and has made a living off of other teams' mistakes. Miami's defense and its ability to take care of the basketball will probably be the difference against an Iowa State team that while sound on D is too inconsistent on offense.

Prediction: Miami 71, Iowa State 66

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.