Saturday night is title night in the Big 12 and will feature the conference’s number 5 seed Iowa State (22-11) and the number 3 seeded Kansas Jayhawks (25-8) doing battle to claim the Big 12 crown. To get to this point, Iowa State upset the top-ranked Kansas State Wildcats on Friday, 63-59. In that game, Marial Shayok led the way for the Cyclones with 21 points and 3 rebounds while forward Michael Jacobson had only 8 points but pulled down 16 boards. For Kansas, they beat West Virginia on Friday, 88-74. In the win, Kansas’ Dedric Lawson led the way with 24 points and 8 rebounds in the victory. The two will matchup Saturday with a 6:00 pm ET tipoff.
During the regular season, these two teams split home and aways. Iowa State won at their place in a lopsided 77-60 affair on January 5. A few weeks later, on January 21, Kansas won at home 80-76. What better place for the tiebreaking matchup than the conference championship.
The two will square off on Saturday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In the matchup, the Kansas Jayhawks come in as 2.5-point favorites playing on the neutral court. The over/under for this game is set at 148 points.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, Iowa State comes in as the stronger of the two teams throughout the season statistically as they rank 59th in the nation scoring 77.7 points per game. They are especially strong from the field, shooting 47.7% (good for 30th in the nation). For the Jayhawks, they rank 101st, averaging 75.6 points.
Defensively, it is also Iowa State that comes in as the stronger team. They rank 110th in the nation allowing just 68.8 points per game to opponents. They are especially tough in the interior as they are blocking 4.5 shots per game (good for 35th in the nation). Kansas comes in at 151st overall allowing 70.1 points per game to opponents.
Iowa State Looking To Beat Kansas After Taking Care Of Kansas State
Iowa State has shown spurts of being a really tough matchup all season long. Kansas State saw firsthand how tough they can be. With the Cyclones rolling, they are hoping to take care of business against Kansas, a team that has been inconsistent throughout the entire season.
The Cyclones offense really goes five deep, but they are led by guard Marial Shayok. On the season, Shayok is averaging 18.6 points per game on 49.9% shooting from the field and 40.4% from behind the arc. He is also averaging 5 rebounds, 2 assists and almost a steal per game. The other leading scorer is Lindell Wigginton, who is averaging 13.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.
Aside from these two, Talen Horton-Tucker (12.4 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals), Michael Jacobson (11.5 points, 5.7 rebounds) and Nick Babb (9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.3 steals) have all had solid seasons throughout the year.
Jayhawks Hoping To Take Tiebreaker In Season Series With Cyclones
Coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks have been dealing with injuries, absences, and inconsistency all season long. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, their starting lineup looks a lot different than the beginning of the season with center Udoka Azubuike getting injured towards the beginning of the season and guard Lagerald Vick taking a leave of absence. Still, Kansas has battled, and you can expect more of the same Saturday night.
Leading the way for the Jayhawks is forward Dedric Lawson. On the season, Lawson in averaging 19 points on 48.8% shooting. In fact, he is averaging a double-double as he is also ripping down 10.4 rebounds per game. Throw in the fact that he averages 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks, and he has put together a really solid season.
The next leading scorer has been guard Devon Dotson. He is averaging 11.9 points on 47.9% shooting while also contributing 3.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. The next two leading scorers are Ochai Agbaji (8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Quentin Grimes (8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2 assists).
Cyclones Take The Big 12
In March Madness, anyone can win on any given night, but for me, I like the chances of Iowa State to win as the 5 seed in the Big 12 Conference tournament. They are playing some really good ball after knocking off the Kansas State Wildcats Friday, and they are better statistically on both sides of the ball compared to the Jayhawks. Even more, I trust their consistency a little more than Kansas’. Undoubtedly, I think Dedric Lawson of Kansas will be the best player on the floor Saturday, but I think the Cyclones have the deeper team. It might be tight, but for my money, I am taking the Cyclones and the 2.5 points.
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