The Iowa State Cyclones have already beaten the No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats this season, but they'll go for the clean sweep in Big 12 Basketball today. The game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Currently the odds for the game have Kansas State favored by 5 points.
Iowa State is probably already a solid NCAA Tournament team, but picking up another win against Kansas State would be huge for the Cyclones. The Wildcats have an RPI of 22 and they're only losses on the season have come against Iowa State, Michigan, Kansas and Gonzaga — all Top 40 RPI teams. A win for either team here would certainly be good, but it would benefit the Cyclones most of all.
The Cyclones have two not-so-good losses on the resume with Iowa and Texas Tech. In fact, of the team's six losses, five of them have come on the road and one was on a neutral site. UNLV, Kansas and Oklahoma State have all bested Iowa State in their own gyms. In other words, Iowa State — who only owns road wins over Missouri-Kansas City (RPI 272) and TCU (RPI 202) — has to get a signature road win.
Kansas State has been solid at home this year, winning 11 of their 12 games. Angel Rodriguez and the Wildcats like to slow the game down a bit and concentrate on the defensive end, while Iowa State is more of an offensive squad. The Cyclones, on average, score more than 10 points per game compared to Kansas State. Will Clyburn is a pretty good reason for that. He leads ISU at better than 15 points per game and killed Kansas State previously this season with 24 points and 10 boards. In his last four games, Clyburn is ripping off 21.3 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Iowa State has won back to back games while Kansas State has won three straight overall. The Cyclones shoot the 3-ball quite often and Kansas State is very good at defending that option. Sure, the Cyclones are second in the conference overall, but how many people believe they can win on the road? A signature win today would obviously help them in the Big 12 race moving forward.
Frosh Georges Niang is proving he can be a force for Iowa State, averaging 11.5 per contest and shooting better than 36 percent from 3-point range. That's not great, but for a center that likes the 3-ball, it's pretty solid. The Cyclones pour in better than 78 points per game and Tyrus McGee as well as Melvin Ejim both average in double figures as well.
Senior Rodney McGruder leads the Wildcats and he has to play well in this game. He scored just 13 points against Iowa State and followed that up with back to back games of just seven points, but Kansas State did go 2-1 in those three games. He had 19 and 9 against Texas Tech in the team's last game.
Iowa State has won three straight in the series, including two of three in Manhattan. But, as mentioned before, they aren't very good on the road this season. But they are playing well in the last four games, even with the loss to Oklahoma State by just a bucket.
We think this game is going to be a closer contest than many think. Just a single possession will determine the outcome of this one. We like the poise of Kansas State playing at home.
Free Pick: Kansas State 70, Iowa State 68
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