Alright, so it’s been nearly 36 hours since Minnesota-Louisville kicked off the 2019 NCAA Tournament, meaning it’s understandable if everyone is a little less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we near the end of the first round.
Luckily, we’ve got two good games on tap to close out Friday, including the second-to-last game of the round of 64 feature the Buckeyes and Cyclones.
So pour one last cup of coffee, as this could be a game you don’t want to miss.
-No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes vs No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones
- Time/TV: 9:50PM ET - TBS
- KenPom Spread: Iowa State (-5.5)
Playing in the middle of Big Ten country, it’s easy for a team like Iowa State to fly a little under your radar. We’re all so dialed in to the happenings of the Hawkeyes that we can forget about the neighbors down the street.
Well I’m here to tell you that from both a traditional and advanced metrics standpoint, the Cyclones are worth paying attention to.
Finishing the year with a 23-11 record (9-9 in the Big 12), head coach Steve Prohm’s team is a bit of a KenPom darling. According to the stats guru, Iowa State is the 16th best team in the country and features the ninth best offense from sea to shining sea.
Taking a closer look at the Cyclones roster, it’s easy to understand why. Senior guard Marial Shayok is the man who stirs the drink for Iowa State. The former Virginia Cavalier averages 18.6 points per game and earned First Team All-Big 12 honors.
And speaking of award winners, sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton was anointed the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, thanks in part to his 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists he averaged off the bench in 2018-’19. What’s really impressive about Wigginton, however, is he’s producing at this level after being ‘demoted’ to a sub-role after starting every game for Iowa State last season.
So yeah, you could say Ohio State will have its hands full when it meets the postseason champions of the Big 12 on Friday night.
Luckily for Chris Holtmann, he’ll have leading scorer Kaleb Wesson back in the fold — as the Buckeyes are a completely different team with and without the sophomore forward.
Rejoining Ohio State for the Big Ten Tournament after a late season suspension, Wesson was at his best in the Buckeyes first round win-or-go-to-the-NIT game against Indiana. Over 34 minutes of game action, Wesson put up a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
A day later against Michigan State it was a different story, however, as Wesson only managed to play 16 minutes as Ohio State fell to the eventual Big 10 trophy winners.
Look, it’s going to sound simple but the Buckeyes can go as far in this tournament as Kaleb Wesson wants them to. There’s much less separating Ohio State and Iowa State than the five seed difference would have you believe. If the Indiana Wesson shows up, it wouldn’t be hard at all to imagine the Buckeyes cruising past ISU and into the second round. But if it’s more of the Michigan State Wesson, well, good luck.
So which one do I think will show up Friday night?
- Pick Against The Spread: Iowa State
Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 18-26