clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big 12 Tournament Preview: Iowa State vs Kansas

The semifinals are tonight in KC

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Every year in March, a plague borne of Ames, IA, and/or sympathizers of Ames, IA, descends upon Kansas City. It is a plague of heavy drinkers who focus more on the three guys in white and black stripes than they do the actual players on the court. They live to boo the opposition more than they live to cheer on their own team. And they make Kansas City their own for three days each year (or one, or two, depending on outcomes). We are now on day two of this Iowegian circus, as the 5th seeded Hawkeyes of Iowa State match up against the top seeded Jayhawks in the Big 12 semifinals at whatever the Sprint Center is now called.

Like yesterday’s preview, I don’t think anyone needs an in-depth refresher on Iowa State (the players and team, that is). Briefly, they play extremely physical, high-intensity defense and live to force turnovers. They rank 2nd nationally in defensive TO rate and 1st in Big 12 play. They’re also the top defensive rebounding team in the conference, adding to their profile of physical basketball. This is not Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State, it’s a tough, brutal style of basketball that brings back memories of the Big 10 in the early 2000s when 51-46 was considered a normal basketball score. ISU isn’t bad offensively, but they aren’t among the better teams in the conference on that end, ranking 7th in OE. They shoot just fine from three, but have struggled creating scoring opportunities inside the arc at times, which is likely how KU will attack them, forcing them to choose between poor shots close to the basket, or praying the three point gods are on their side.


The last time these teams faced was the last time Kansas lost, until their poor performing in the season-closing road game in Austin. And they didn’t just lose, they were never really a factor. ISU won 68-53, forcing Kansas to turn the ball over on a whopping 30% of their possessions, enough to tank any team’s chances, unless they can scorch the nets from three to come back (which KU did not do). They also put up a downright miserable OReb% of 17%. As outlined above, these are two of ISU’s strongest areas, and playing right into the opponent’s strengths rarely results in positive outcomes. Iowa State didn’t do anything amazing offensively in that game, but between the boards and turnovers, they put up 17 more field goal attempts than KU did. It’s nearly impossible to beat that.

Naturally, I’d feel more confident if Bill Self were going to be there, making adjustments and ensuring this team doesn’t repeat the mistakes they made in Ames. However, after seeing the way the players responded yesterday, and spoke about Self’s influence after the game, even in his absence, gives me some hope. For those familiar with my thinking, I tend to downplay emotion and “wanting it more” when I write my previews, preferring to base my thoughts on what is observable to be true. With that said, it feels like this team is on a mission anyway, and facing an opponent that clowned them in their last meeting isn’t going to temper the intensity at all.

Still, Iowa State is a good basketball team. They’ve struggled of late, going on a 1-6 streak after that big win over Kansas, but have rebounded (ha!) to win their last two. I don’t think KU, especially with Self watching from a hospital bed, assuming medical staff are letting him watch, is just going to take over and run away with this game. ISU plays teams tough and keeps games close. I don’t believe this will be an exception, and the game may come down to a last second possession, but I believe Kansas will send the hordes from Ames back to their...whatever people in Ames live in, with a victory in Kansas City tonight, to set up an appearance in the Big 12 Final.

Kansas 70, Iowa State 67