As the minutes count down until tip-off 0f tonight’s showdown between Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones, each respective fan base is eagerly envisioning what their team must do in order to come away victorious. The latest installment of the rivalry promises to be challenging for each of the participants, as the two schools meet for the first time since 1987 while both ranked in the top 25.
The Cyclones will have the initial advantage of playing on their raucous home floor at Hilton Coliseum. For Iowa to grab an early season high-caliber road win there are a few things that they will need to take advantage of:
Control the glass
While statistically these two teams are almost dead-even in total rebounding, ranking 4th and 5th nationally, Iowa has a distinct advantage when it comes to size in and outside of the paint. The average height of the Iowa State’s seven primary contributors is 6-4.5, while the Hawkeyes boast a lineup 10 deep with only two players shorter than 6-6. The taller and longer Iowa team will need to make its presence felt on the boards, both creating second opportunities for themselves and limiting those of the Cyclones.
Lock down the arc
Iowa State enters tonight’s game attempting almost 28 three pointers per game, and shoots an above average 37.4 percent. Just about every player that takes the floor for the Cyclones is unafraid to launch shots from downtown. It will be up to the Hawkeyes to rely on their highly ranked three point field goal percentage defense (26.3%) in order to limit open looks for their opponent that could spark game-changing runs.
Unselfishness is key
The Hawkeyes currently sit at 10th nationally in assists per game. This not only makes them difficult for the opposition to guard, but it also increases the likelihood that a cold shooting night by one player won’t drag the entire team down. So long as Iowa continues to share the basketball, they will force Iowa State to focus its defense on the entire complement of players on the floor.
Drown them with depth
Iowa’s greatest advantage over virtually any team it will face this season is its tremendous depth. With a head coach in Fran McCaffery that is unafraid to go 10-deep on a regular basis, the Hawkeyes boast numerous players that can come in and impact a game. Iowa State will play at maximum eight players, so it will be up to the road team to utilize its advantage to wear down the opponent as the game progresses.
Stars play like stars
For the Iowa basketball team to come away victorious it will likely have to succeed in close-knit late game situations. These moments are a time when a team’s best players must step to the forefront and take control when the game is on the line. In senior Devyn Marble and junior Aaron White, Iowa’s two leaders and top scorers will need to make big plays down the stretch to help lift the Hawkeyes to a win.
Handle the Hilton hysteria
The Hawkeyes will be entering one of the most underrated and hostile environments in college basketball when they take on the Cyclones. Iowa State rarely loses at home, and has already taken down a highly regarded (though vastly overrated) Michigan team. In what promises to be an electric atmosphere leadership and experience will once again be key for Iowa. If the Hawkeyes can keep the crowd somewhat subdued by limiting the home team’s momentum, they will be right in the game with a chance to win it late.