With just four games left for both the Baylor Bears and the Iowa State Cyclones, it is getting closer and closer to the pressure cooker that is known as March Madness. Both teams are ranked in the Top-20 of the most recent polls, and are pretty much locks for the NCAA tournament. Now it comes down to positioning and improving your seed. For the Bears, nothing helps improving your stock more than a Big road win against a ranked team. With a long-shot at securing at least a share of the Big 12 title, the Bears don't need this win for that, but the Cyclones do. With conference leader Kansas losing for the second time in three games, the Cyclones are back in the Big 12 title race, just 1 win behind the Jayhawks.
|No. 19 Baylor (20-7, 8-6) at No. 12 Iowa State (20-6, 10-4)|
|Date||Feb. 25, 2015 | 8:00 p.m. CT|
|Location||Ames, Iowa | Hilton Coliseum (14,356)|
|Radio||ESPN Central Texas|
|Online Audio||Listen Online|
Fun Stats of the Game
-Wednesday is the 29th series meeting. Baylor is 11-17 all-time against ISU, including an 0-12 mark in Ames.
-Repeat...>Baylor has never won in Ames.
-Iowa State has won 21 straight home games in a row.
Keys to the Game
1. Win the Glass - You can pretty much make this a constant key to a Baylor win. The Bears are elite on the glass, especially offensively. They used their great rebounding skills to get 12 more rebounds than Iowa State in their win back in mid-January. Baylor gathers almost 42.8% of their misses on offense, a ridiculous number. Of course, Ricardo Gathers is the lynch pin of this effort, but Jonathan Motley and Taurean Prince are good offensive rebounders as well. Add in Royce O'Neale and Ish Wainright who are very good at hitting the glass for their position, and this is not just a one man show.
The Cyclones are not a good offensive rebounding team at all, ranking 9th in the conference in terms of conference-only offensive rebound rate. They are over 12% less than what Baylor does with its misses. On the other side of the coin though, the Cyclones do a slightly better job of clearing their defensive glass, ranking slightly ahead of Baylor during conference play (30.9% allowed, versus 32.4% allowed). Baylor has to dominate on the glass and get those second chance points and long possessions that can take the crowd out of a game.
2. Find those Shooters - The Cyclones have 6 players who have made at least 20 3-pointers this season, led by Naz Long (64 of 152). They make over 36% of their 3-pointers, and are an exceptional shooting team, especially inside of the arc. They are seventh in the nation in 2-point field goal %. Naz Long is one of the best shooters in the Big 12, and carried the Cyclones in the second half of their close loss to the Bears earlier this year. Georges Niang is also a very efficient shooter, and a guy that causes match-up problems due to his size (6-foot-8) and skill set. Add in another 40% shooters like Dustin Hogue and then two streaky shooters in Bryce Dejean-Jones and Montee Morris, as the Cyclones are loaded with guys that you have to cover past the 3-point line. The Baylor defense has to pay attention to the scouting report and challenge the right guys and make sure they are not leaving open shooters all over the court.
3. Slow it DOWN - The Cyclones are an offensive minded squad that wants to get out and run. They are the 7th fastest team in terms of Tempo according to KenPom (Baylor is 287th). They hit the defensive glass hard to get the ball back and push it up the floor. Iowa State does not force a ton of turnovers (just 212th in turnover %), but when they do, they are deadly at getting the ball up the court. With Dustin Hogue and Georges Niang both have exceptional speed and athleticism for their size, this is a team built to run. The Bears saw the opposite of this against Kansas State, where they needed to try and speed the Wildcats up. Wednesday night, they will need to focus on slowing down the quick and aggressive Cyclones, and make them play at the pace the Bears want.
What Happened Last Time?
Baylor won 74-73 in a game that saw them burst out of the gates with a nearly perfect start only to let the Cyclones back in the game late. The Bears answered every run Iowa State went on, including rebuilding an almost completely lost lead late in the first half to go up 12 at halftime. The Cyclones would get hot from deep late, with Naz Long going a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range. Baylor would do enough late, with Kenny Chery hitting the game winner on a beautiful pull up jumper.
KenPom.com – Iowa State Wins 76-72 (36% chance for win)
Massey.com – Iowa State Wins 75-69 (30% chance for win)
RealTime RPI – Iowa State Wins 85-73
Tim Watkins BearsIllustrated.com Writer– Iowa State Wins 74-62
The Bears blitzed the Cyclones in Waco early and then held on late to squeak out a win. Baylor got a lot of breaks that game, first and foremost Georges Niang having one of the worst games of his season. Baylor made over 50% of its three-pointers, and 12 rebound edge on the glass. Yet, they only won by a single point, and it took a pretty Kenny Chery jumper in the final seconds to get the win. I just don't know if the Bears will get enough of the breaks to win this one. Ames, IA has not been kind to the Bears, or really any other teams the past few seasons. Plus, with Iowa State now having a glimmer of hope for a Big 12 title, you could see a pretty wild crowd and a big-time effort from the Iowa State team. Bears hang around for a while, but trail for most of the game, until a late surge puts the game out of reach.