The most anticipated matchup of the young season has finally arrived. Tonight, Iowa State's women's basketball team (8-0) will host the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-1). This will be the 44th meeting between the two schools; Iowa holds a 23-20 advantage, with the home team winning the last five meetings.
The Hawkeyes enter the game No. 21 in the nation and winners of six straight games, defeating their opponents by an average of 22.2 points per contest. In contrast, the No. 17 Cyclones have won 74 straight regular season nonconference games inside Hilton Coliseum and are defeating teams by an average of 27.1 points.
This game will not only matchup two Top 25 foes, but also two future Hall of Fame Coaches. Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder is in her 14th season at Iowa with a 251-157 (.615) record, only 18 wins away from being the all-time winningest coach in school history, surpassing Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer (269).
Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly in his 19th season in Ames with a 404-182 (.689) record, including averaging over 21 wins per season throughout the duration of his tenure.
Fennelly is 8-0 against Iowa in Hilton Coliseum and 11-6 overall.
Tale of the Tape
These teams are very evenly matched. Both teams want to push tempo and pressure the defense with transition basketball. Iowa is averaging 84 points per game, Iowa State 82. Iowa is shooting .455 percent from the field, Iowa State .461. Iowa is shooting .341 percent from three, Iowa State .387. Twenty-eight percent of Iowa's points will come from the three, to Iowa State's 35.
Twenty-one percent of the Hawkeyes' points have come from the foul line, 18 made per game. Iowa State averages 19 points per game from the foul line, and 24 percent of its offensive production comes from the charity stripe.
The one to watch: Iowa State's Hallie Christofferson against the Hawkeyes' Doolittle (6-foot-4), who is averaging 14.4 points and almost three blocks per game. Both offenses will run through these two players as Christofferson leads the Cyclones in shot attempts (115, 25 percent of the team's offense) and Doolittle is second on the Hawkeyes (115, or 16 percent of the team's offense). If Christofferson gets into early foul trouble, it would be very troublesome for Iowa State.
Keep an Eye On
Length. With ISU center Madison Baier tearing her ACL last Sunday against Cal State Fullerton, that leaves Hallie Christofferson as the Cyclones' lone experience player with any length (6-foot-3) in the backcourt. The next tallest player are forwards Brynn Williamson (5-foot-11) and Seanna Johnson (5-foot-10). Iowa will run a four-guard system most of the time, but center Doolittle is a looming presence and reserve forward Kali Peschel is 6-foot-1 and plays a lot of key minutes.
Look for the crowd to be a factor. Iowa State will have a decided advantage of playing in front of 10,000 screaming fans. Iowa hasn't played in a game with more than 3,500 fans all season.
This game will be fun to watch. Both teams want to get up and run on offense, pressure the ball on defense to create turnovers and easy points on the other side of the court. Both teams have a legitimate go-to inside presence in Christofferson and Doolittle and ball handlers on the outside who can find the shooters on the perimeter. I've not seen two teams this evenly matched in most every statistical category.
It's a contest you'll want to set your DVR for, because this is one of the games that has the potential to be talked about for years to come. The Cyclones don't lose at home and feed off the crowd to pull away late in a nail-biter, 79-73.