Game of the Night
- Time/TV: 8:00 PM ET (ESPN2)
Iowa and Iowa State will meet once again tonight for another matchup in their yearly rivalry. Iowa is coming off of a 98-84 win last year and have won two of the last three games. Iowa State, who went 6-1 from 2009-2015 in the series, is looking to win for the ninth time in a row when at home. The last time the Cyclones lost to Iowa in Ames was 2003 when the Hawkeyes edged Iowa State 54-53 in the NIT.
The Hawkeyes bounced back from a Michigan loss with a 20 point win over Minnesota. At 7-3 Iowa has excelled on offense but there’s questions about who can step up besides Luka Garza. Garza is averaging 22.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and dropped 44 against Michigan. Joe Wieskamp is averaging 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, but there’s not that many offensive weapons past that. Like in years past, Iowa’s strength in numbers approach brings a balanced attack to the table, but past Garza doesn’t always lead to a consistent secondary scoring option. It’s not a huge surprise that Garza has shot 62 more field goals and 27 more free throws than the next Iowa player.
Iowa State played Michigan close in late November and avenged a loss to Seton Hall with a win against those same Pirates on Sunday. The Cyclones made it to the NCAA Tournament last year and should look somewhat familiar to Big Ten fans as they have Penn State transfer Rasir Bolton and Nebraska transfer Michael Jacobson in their starting five. Just like Iowa the Cyclones can score, averaging 82 points per game (24th in the nation). Tyrese Haliburton and Bolton create a solid backcourt, with the duo currently averaging 31.5 points per game. Jacobson adds 9.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to add some experience in the frontcourt.
Tonight's game should be entertaining as both teams have excelled on offense so far this season. Iowa State has a better backcourt, but Iowa has Luka Garza inside and he can be a straight up game changer. If Garza can have a strong night and get some additional help from the rest of the roster, Iowa could win in Ames for the first time in quite awhile. That being said, both of the teams are relatively evenly matched so the game being played in Ames could very well be the deciding factor.
Look for a high scoring and close game with the Cyclones finding a way to survive.
Pick: Iowa State