NCAA Tournament - The Dangerous 14 To Pick
Posted Mar 16, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview, Breakdown & Pick: East Region – No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 14 NC Central

- 60-Second Video Analysis On Each Team

Line: Iowa State -10
Why To Pick NC Central: Every year there's a team you don't know anything about – Florida Gulf Coast – and so you don't think twice about picking its opponent. NC Central could be one of those teams with a fabulous defense that doesn't allow much of anything and never turns the ball over. The Eagles beat NC State way back in November, and they have just enough of an inside presence to hit the boards and give the Cyclones problem.
Why To Pick Iowa State: The offense could run the Eagles out of the gym. NC Central doesn't hit threes and it won't do enough to take advantage of the Cyclones' inability to block shots. Can Iowa State set the pace early to end this right away? It's possible, and if they can get up by double digits in the first half, it'll be over.
The Pick: Iowa State 79-71. Watch out. NC Central comes in on a 20-game winning streak and could pull off the shocker. In the end, though, Iowa State will be too balanced and too tough down the stretch to escape.

Iowa State Cyclones
Head coach: Fred Hoiberg Record: 26-7 Conference: Big 12

What You Need To Know: Few teams are better at handing out assists. The Cyclones love to push the tempo at every opportunity and keep opponents on their heels. They use their defense and rebounding to start the fast break, and when they're running with confidence, they're almost unstoppable. Forward Melvin Ejim is a man among boys, and he plays with an aggressiveness and anger that can be intimidating when he's going to the rim. DeAndre Kane can score, rebound and pass, and he's the engine for the Cyclones. He also is ISU's best three-point shooter among the starters. Georges Niang can fill it up and has the versatility to give Iowa State good balance on the floor. Dustin Hogue is only 6-6, 215 pounds, but he goes to the glass hard and doesn't try to do too much.
Strengths: Assists, Three Point Shooting, Scoring
Weaknesses: Blocked Shots, Scoring Defense, Free Throws
How Far Will They Go?: The ball movement will be enough to get out alive against NC Central, and they can get past the North Carolina-Providence winner to get into the second weekend. Can they beat Villnova or UConn to get into the Elite Eight? Book it.

North Carolina Central Eagles
Head coach: LeVelle Moton Record: 28-5 Conference: MEAC

What You Need To Know: The Eagles are riding a 20-gamewinning streak, earning their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament as a Division I program by winning the MEAC Tournament. Dominant this season, it's thier quickness and athleticism that makes them special. Head coach LeVelle Morton's team owns a win over North Carolina State and hung with Cincinnati and Wichita State earlier this year, so the Eagles will be a challenge in the Dance. Senior guard Jeremy Ingram is a game-changing scorer who breaks teams off the dribble as well as anyone, and his quickness makes an impact on defense. Guard Emanuel Chapman isn't a scorer, but he distributes the ball well and thrives in transition. Guard Jordan Parks and forward Jay Copeland provide solid scoring options, and Copeland is a hard-nosed rebounder.
Strengths: Scoring, Turnover Margin, Field Goal Percentage Defense
Weaknesses: Three Point Shooting, Blocked Shots, Scoring
How Far Will They Go?: Watch out. There isn't enough there to make a deep run of any sort, and it'll take something special to beat Iowa State, but this is a very quick, very strong team making its first trip to the tournament. It's good enough to pull off an upset or two.