So the championship game is here. To prep for what should be a fabulous showdown tonight, I reached out to Kevin Fitzpatrick (aka KFitzy87) over at Wide Right & Natty Lite, the SB Nation site covering the Iowa State Cyclones. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: This Big 12 tournament has been a microcosm of the conference this regular season, with huge comebacks, brutal low scoring games and general craziness all around. Was there any point during Iowa State's opening game against Texas that you had resigned yourself to loss? And at what point did you just know that Iowa State was going to win?
WRNL: This conference season has truly been unlike any other. I can't remember the last time every matchup seemed like it could go either way on any given night.
Regarding the Texas game... I don't think Cyclone fans ever thought we were completely out of it. Having come from behind to win the prior two games against Oklahoma and TCU showed us that this team has the balls to make a big run to win in the second half.
On the flip side, we as Iowa State fans have been very conditioned to expect the worst until the final buzzer. The honest answer is, I personally began thinking we were going to win with exactly 0:00 remaining on the clock. That Monte Morris shot was a beauty, wasn't she? Had I expected that we were going to win at any time before that, Morris' shot clangs off the rim and Kansas City doesn't look anywhere near as cardinal and gold today. It's a science.
RCT: Without having actually watched the whole game against Oklahoma, I can't really say who the MVP was, but KenPom says it was actually TaShawn Thomas for OU. Iowa State seemed to play a pretty balanced game, with 7 players all scoring between 6 and 13 points (and no two players having the same number). That being said, Georges Niang seemed to struggle. So the question is: would you rather have a really balanced game like this where everyone is contributing something but your stars struggle, or would you rather that Niang goes off and the rest of the guys chip in here and there?
WRNL: The latter, easily. I love me some Georges, but when everyone on this team is contributing, they're extremely hard to guard. When it's just Niang or Morris shouldering the load and the others aren't connecting on the passes they're being kicked, that's when ISU gets frustrating to watch.
Last night was much more "Hoiball-esque" than the game against Texas. Coach Hoiberg wants to space the floor and have everyone be a scoring threat. When the opposing team's defense can start keying in on one or two players, the offensive possibilities start to become limited.
RCT: So ESPN appeared to break some news last night. Are you guys swapping conferences or just mascots and color schemes?
WRNL: Seriously, it's like they do it on purpose. There has to be some database at ESPN that when you search "Iowa State logo" it comes up with Iowa's, and they've just never fixed it. There's no other explanation for how often they get it wrong. It's always frustrating to have your image be swapped with that of an insuperior team.
RCT: Both of these teams seem to like to run, but usually start off extremely slow. Is it possible for both teams to get down early in this game, and if so, who do you credit with the incredible comeback?
WRNL: Like you said, both teams are capable of getting down early in the game and making a comeback. KU has been known for going on big runs to either get back in the game or put the game away for as long as I can remember.
As I mentioned earlier, ISU has had to come back to win in their last four games, so they've done a nice job "practicing" that lately. I'll go ahead and make the prediction that whichever team is leading at halftime will have that lead erased at some point in the second half. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised to see it tied going into the half tonight either.
RCT: Your prediction? Sure, Kansas has been without Alexander, but it hasn't really seemed to faze them that much with the emergence of Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson. Can Iowa State start slow and get a third comeback in three days, or do they actually get a good showing from start to finish and win their second consecutive tournament crown?
WRNL: Lucas and Mickelson have been impressive filling in from what Kansas games I've watched. I think tonight is going to be one of those games where the lead changes every five minutes. I don't think ISU is going to let this one slip away early as easily as the last few games, but I don't think they'll be able to completely pull away from Kansas either.
I will be picking the Jayhawks to win when I write up the GameThread over on WRNL later today (it's a mini tradition), but ISU is finally showing they know how to win close games consistently. I think they'll win another nail biter tonight.
RCT: BONUS - It's NCAA potluck time! We all know that Kansas City has the best barbecue, TCU already said they are bringing TexMex (with an assist from Texas Tech) and Baylor is bringing some faux-BBQ. What dish would Iowa State bring to represent its regional tastes?
WRNL: We can bring the beer, right? Potlucks need booze. We Iowans have probably ran the Kansas City establishments dry by the time this article is published.
Check out this series of articles from WRNL's very own NormanUnderwood. If you're ever in Iowa, give us a holler and we'd love to take you guys out on the town.
A big thanks to Kevin for helping us out today. This potluck sure seems to be coming together nicely. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well. Now excuse me while I go make me some food.