The Cyclones come to Lawrence in search of their first Big 12 win and first win overall of 2021. It’s worth noting they have lost conference games by 6, 4, 7, and 3 points so they’re not as bad as their record shows (and ranked about 70 spots higher in KenPom than K-State), but Kansas should still be heavy favorites.
Iowa State ranks lower than 250th nationally in turnover percentage, offensive rebounding, and getting to the free throw line, meaning they need to shoot a ridiculous percentage in order to win a game. Kansas has obliged at times this year, but so long as no ridiculous luck happens and Iowa State continues to do its thing elsewhere, it should be difficult for the Cyclones to score enough to threaten Kansas. It is worth noting they shoot quite a few threes, and may attempt even more given the opponent, so if an outlier performance happens they could score more than one would expect.
Defensively, the Cyclones have been very good at limiting 3-point attempts - tops in the conference in fact. But that’s where the effectiveness stops. Iowa State ranks 10th in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding, 10th in free throws allowed, and 10th in 2-point percentage allowed. I suspect a lot of David McCormack is about to happen, and he may actually get to the line in this one. It is worth noting Iowa State is roughly average at forcing turnovers, and with KU’s periodic issues turning the ball over, it’s important the Jayhawks limit those as much as possible, or at least limit the live-ball turnovers which will in turn limit the easy shots for the Cyclones.
Players to Watch
Rasir Bolton, 6-3 junior guard
Bolton leads the Big 12 in minutes played, ranks 5th in usage, 3rd in assist percentage, and 2nd in free throw shooting while also shooting 50 percent from two. If there were a Big 12 MVP award, Bolton may be the winner given the fact Iowa State would look more like a “middle of the pack in a one bid league” type of team without him.
Jalen Coleman-Lands, 6-4 senior guard
The DePaul transfer is shooting almost 40 percent from deep this year while not turning it over much. He’s also (I think) the oldest starter in the Big 12 at about 24 and a half.
Tyler Harris, 5-9 junior guard
Despite his size, or maybe because of it, Harris has one of the best steal rates in the Big 12. He’s also shooting over 40 percent from three in Big 12 play although as you can imagine, open shots are relatively rare.
I am less confident in this one than the Kansas State game, but KU should still be heavy favorites. Once again I’ll have to update my ATS pick once I see the actual spread, but with Iowa State allowing a ton of attempts inside (and relatively easy ones at that) it looks like McCormack has the potential to continue his good play offensively. Assuming he doesn’t get too lost and the Jayhawks don’t allow too many open threes, I like their chances. I’ll say Kansas 73-61.
2021 ATS: 14-5