We are still one day away from a banner day in college hoops, but for those of us eager to get to the main course we have a decent appetizer tonight. It’s one of those games that always means a lot locally, but this year, due to some hot starts by each team, became one of the biggest matchups between two these two Iowa schools in recent memory. We will break down Iowa vs. Iowa State in a minute.
We got back to our winning ways last night with Maryland’s road victory over Boston College. It was our 8th win in 12 games, and we will try to carry some nice momentum into a big weekend of college hoops. Just a reminder, some of the biggest games across the national landscape are early tomorrow, so be sure to check back at the blog early!
OK, let’s dig into the battle for supremacy in the Hawkeye state…
Today’s Free Pick:
Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones -3.5
Even if you are not from the Midwest, this is going to be one heckuva ball game tonight. Both teams enter ranked nationally, and have just one loss between them (Iowa’s hard-fought loss to Villanova in the Atlantis Championship game). Neither team has gotten to this point by accident either. Although neither entered the season with a ton of acclaim, both have deep and talented rosters and could be contenders to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
On the surface, it seems Iowa has faced a decent schedule and been up to the task. They pulled out a gutsy win over Xavier in overtime and used that win to catapult themselves to the championship game in Atlantis where they also beat UTEP. They have beaten Notre Dame as well. But upon further review, it isn’t easy to be CERTAIN this Iowa team is ready for prime time. Xavier has also lost to USC and barely beat Bowling Green and Evansville at home. Notre Dame has home losses to North Dakota State and Indiana State. This will be Iowa’s first game against a sure-fire NCAA Tourney opponent, and they get them on the road in a frenzied and hostile environment. It makes the fact that they have the best point differential (20.4 ppg) in the country a little less impressive.
Iowa State enters a perfect 9-0, with a couple marquee wins including a win over Michigan and a road win at BYU. Both are going to be nice chips in their favor come tourney seeding time. If they can add a third high quality win tonight, it might be time to start lumping them in the discussion with Kansas and Oklahoma State in the Big 12.
Iowa has great depth, playing ten players major minutes, and they are going to need it tonight. Iowa State averages a ridiculous 91.7 points per game and has seven players averaging more than seven points a game including four over 12.7 ppg. They tallied 90 at BYU and 77 against Big Ten Michigan, so I see no reason they will be slowed tonight at home.
Roy Devean Marble will need to have a HUGE game to keep Iowa in it, but I don’t think he’ll be enough. Give me Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang to have big games for the Cyclones and for them to cover the 3.5 points at home.