This is Why We Warned You About Iowa StatePosted by dnspewak on March 16th, 2012
In the midst of discussion about Jim Calhoun’s future and the untapped potential of the defending champion Connecticut Huskies, it seems that everybody forgot about Iowa State. Right on cue, the forgotten Cyclones advanced to the second (or is it third?) round with a 77-64 victory on Thursday. Of course, we already told you yesterday the Cyclones could potentially spell danger in the NCAA Tournament. Although we would like to take credit for that prediction, it really was not a brilliant call by any means. Facing a team that underachieved all year long, Fred Hoiberg‘s overachieving bunch of transfer misfits embarrassed UConn in the first half, leading by as many as 22 points. Scott Christopherson couldn’t miss, and the team as a whole looked tougher, more mature and more focused than the young Huskies.
That hot start helped Iowa State withstand a rally by Connecticut. In the end, this was a statement victory for Iowa State. A statement that Hoiberg is no flash in the pan in 2011-12; that these guys can surely give Kentucky a game on Saturday. It’s hard to remember this Iowa State team actually finished third in the Big 12, considering absolutely nobody gave it a chance to knock off the defending champs. Yet after just minutes, the Cyclones wiped the floor with the big, bad Huskies of the Big East, eventually outrebounding them by 19 and holding them to 37.5 percent from the floor.
That turns our attention to Saturday. As you have heard at least a dozen times on CBS or a Turner affiliate in the past, say, 10 minutes, Kentucky can block shots. Lots of them. Anthony Davis is really good, and so is Terrance Jones. And as you’ve heard a million times, the key to beating a team with those kinds of shot-blockers is to burn them from the outside. That’s exactly what Iowa State can do. Forget Royce White. A stud, for sure, but Christopherson, Chris Allen and Tyrus McGee will need to shoulder the load from the perimeter.
Iowa State already knocked off Kansas at home this year, so it’s no stranger to defeating the nation’s top teams. If it rebounds as well as it did against UConn, we may have a ballgame.