2014 College Basketball Picks: Iowa State @ Kansas – Free College Basketball Picks 1/29/14: A pair of ranked Big 12 rivals will meet for the second time this month when the 16th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (15-3, 3-3 Big 12) meet the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (15-4, 6-0 Big 12) Wednesday night. The teams are heading in opposite directions heading into the matchup with the Jayhawks winning six straight and the Cyclones dropping three of their last four. Kansas went into Ames a few weeks ago and left with a 77-70 victory, and this time around, the Jayhawks are 8-point favorites.
Iowa State has relied on a high-powered offense all year. The Cyclones currently rank seventh in the country in scoring and second in assists, and four players are currently averaging at least 12 points per game. Forward Melvin Ejim is the team’s leading scorer at 17.9 points per game and guard DeAndre Kane has been stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. On the flips side, the Cyclones haven’t been great defensively. They are also undersized inside, but they have three players averaging more than 7 rebounds per game.
With basically a new group of starters, the Jayhawks have overcome some growing pains to become one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country. In fact, the Jayhawks have the third-best field goal percentage in the nation. Star freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid and blossoming sophomore Perry Ellis form a powerful frontcourt, and freshman point guard Wayne Selden Jr. provides some explosiveness on the perimeter. It’s also worth noting that while Kansas has three losses on the year, all three have come against teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally.
The Cyclones Win If:
If the Cyclones are going to pull off the upset, they have to control the pace of the action with their up-tempo offense. Iowa State doesn’t have a ton of size, and the Cyclones struggle when forced to play in the half court on a consistent basis, having dropped two of their three conference games when scoring below 80 points. On the flip side, they can be a nightmare for opposing defenses when they get out in the open court. Defensively, Iowa State needs to fuel its transition game by pressuring Kansas’ young guards and forcing turnovers. The Cyclones also need to make sure to take care of business on the glass on the defensive end against the Jayhawks big frontcourt.
The Jayhawks Win If:
For the Jayhawks to win the game, they need to take advantage of their size inside. By feeding the ball to their big men inside, Kansas can get quality looks, shoot a high percentage and keep the Cyclones from getting out in transition. Similarly, the Jayhawks need to limit their turnovers in order to slow down Iowa State’s up-tempo attack. If Kansas is able to set its defense consistently and make the Cyclones try to score over their big men inside, the pace is going to be in Kansas’ favor. If the Jayhawks control the pace, they are going to be in the driver’s seat.
In the end, the Jayhawks are just a tough matchup for the Cyclones. For one, Kansas is playing its best coming into the game, knocking off four ranked opponents during its six-game winning streak. More importantly, the Jayhawks’ size advantage inside will allow them to control the pace of this matchup just as it did in the first meeting between these two teams. The key is that Kansas’ big men not only have a size edge over the Cyclones frontcourt, but they can also match Iowa State’s overall athleticism. In other words, the Cyclones won’t be running the Jayhawks out of any gym, especially Allen Fieldhouse.
Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks (-8) Cover the Spread
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