Update 11:45 p.m. ET: Pitt hung on for a comeback 60-59 win over Mississippi State to make the main field. Jamarius Burton’s pull-up jumper in the lane with six seconds left was the difference. Colgate transfer Nelly Cummings led all Panthers with 15 points, and the team as a whole was 9-19 from three-point range.
The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 14th with the First Four, and then moves on to the First Round on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17. The No. 6 seed Iowa State Cyclones will face the No. 11 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs/Pittsburgh Panthers on Friday, March 17
Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the matchup.
Game date: Friday, March 17
Game time: 3 p.m. ET
TV channel: TruTV
Location: Greensboro, NC
Spread: Iowa State -4.5
Moneyline: ISU -190, Pitt +160
No. 6 Iowa State
Iowa State started the season 12-2 and appeared to be among the best the Big 12 had to offer. That was, of course, before they struggled to a 6-10 record over the remainder of the season. To their credit, they did knock off No. 7 Baylor on the road in their season finale, an excellent Quad 1 win.
A key reason for the Cyclones’ struggles have been a lack of steady sources of scoring. Jaren Holmes (13.2) and Gabe Kalscheur (12.7) are the only Cyclones who averaged double-figures, leading the team to a Big 12 second-worst mark of 68.5 points per game. But they rank 8th in defensive efficiency via KenPom, and force a turnover on a whopping 25.1% of possessions (2nd in NCAA).
Record: 19-13, 9-9 Big 12
Coach: T.J. Otzelberger
KenPom overall: 23
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 97
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 8
PPP overall: 1.010
Leading scorer: Jaren Holmes
Quad 1 record: 10-11
Against The Spread: 16-16-0
Over Total: 11-21-0
Odds to win NCAA Championship: TBD
No. 11 Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Panthers are enjoying their best season since 2013-14, and are going dancing for the first time post-2016. After going 14-6 through their arduous ACC schedule in 2022-23, the Panthers ended the regular season at 22-11.
Pitt fought valiantly in the opening round of their conference tournament, defeating Georgia Tech, but got clobbered by the Blue Devils in the Quarterfinal. On the heels of a 27-point loss, the Panthers will be eager to remind opponents that they can be quick to pounce on the offensive end of the floor.
Record: 22-11, 14-6 ACC
Coach: Jeff Capel III
KenPom overall: 78
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 24
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 143
PPP overall: 1.094
Leading scorer: Blake Hinson
Quad 1 record: 4-4
Against The Spread: 22-10-1
Over Total: 21-12