Well. Here we are, looking down the barrel of a ranked Iowa State team with a not-so-great Hawkeye squad at our backs.
I’m not going to spend much time breaking this matchup down, since you already know the gist: Iowa is not great, and Iowa State is pretty good. Most damningly, the Cyclones just beat Nebraska-Omaha 91-47. Yeah, the same Nebraska-Omaha team that took down Iowa 98-89 in Carver this past Saturday.
We already spoke with our acquaintances over at WRNL about this matchup. The consensus? Iowa State isn’t playing very well, but is still 5-2 and ranked No. 25. It’s worth noting, however, that State’s best win is over a Miami team who’s best win is over Rutgers, so it’s not like they have the most impressive résumé.
Iowa is, as of this writing, 179th in defensive efficiency per KenPom, while Iowa State is 31st in offensive efficiency.
There will be blood.
Get to know the Clones
Iowa State is led by 12th-year senior Monte Morris, who’s averaging 15 points, 6 boards and 4 assists a game. He had 20 against Iowa last year. That’s the last time we’re going to mention what happened last year in this game.
Behind Morris is former (of course!) Marquette player Deonte Burton, averaging 14 points and seven boards when he’s on the floor. Then there’s Naz Long, who’s actually in a bit of a shooting slump but still getting 13 a night.
Iowa State’s best three-point shooting option so far has been Matt Thomas, but he also seems to be in a bit of a swoon, averaging just 11 points a game and hitting tres at a .372 clip, down from an impressive .432 a year ago.
Iowa State’s two losses came against Gonzaga and Cincinnati. Both the losses are understandable, as the Bulldogs currently sit undefeated and at No. 8 in the AP poll, while Cincy is 7-1 and boast the No. 22 ranking. Zaga shot a blistering 13-25 from three while it took down Iowa State, while Cincy used a different strategy.
The Bearcats out-rebounded Iowa State 46-34 in its win, and forced the Clones to hit just 5-21 three-pointers. Cincy also turned it over 14 times to Iowa State’s seven, so maybe there’s some hope in this one for Iowa after all.
How Iowa can win
First and foremost, I think this team can only go so far as Peter Jok can carry it. And even then, that might not be enough seeing as how he had 33 against Omaha and 42 against Memphis and Iowa still managed to lose those games.
After that, we need Nicholas Baer to go on the same sort of tear he went on last year, blocking everything in sight and dominating, or at least contesting in the paint. Cordell Pemsl is going to have to record his best game as a Hawkeye and rile up some Cyclones in the process.
Finally, Tyler Cook NEEDS to magically get better all of a sudden and drop 30 to even keep Iowa in this game. Oh and Jordan Bohannon is gonna have to shoot lights out too. In conclusion, Iowa needs to play absolutely perfect defense and shoot damn near 100 percent if it wants a chance against little brother here.
I will say this, though: the last time I felt this pessimistic towards an Iowa matchup was when we played Michigan this year in football, so maybe anything can happen!?
As of this writing, Iowa State is a 5.5-point favorite after that line opened at 7.5. So Vegas thinks Iowa will play up to its competition, I suppose, but honestly I see Iowa state covering easily. This line reeks of shenanigans, methinks.
When Iowa played Notre Dame last week I speculated we would see some flashes of brilliance in this Hawkeye squad, followed closely by yelling at the TV and gratuitous use of four-letter words.
The above still applies. I advise you to avoid Twitter like the plague before you go to bed tonight.
How to watch:
Location: Carver/Hawkeye Arena
Time: 7:01 PM, God’s Time
Online: Watch ESPN
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network
It also looks like we’re doing that Black & Gold thing for this game. That looks nice.
Thursday is Iowa’s annual Black & Gold Spirit Game. Fans are encouraged to wear black or gold clothing based on the section of their seats. pic.twitter.com/Ig97LJ60hH— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 6, 2016
Maybe students will actually show up for the first time all year?