If the thrilling battles between Kansas and Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum over the last few seasons are any indication, the Jayhawks might have found themselves a rivalry replacement in the wake of Missouri’s departure to the SEC. Whether you want to talk about Fred Hoiberg‘s rapid rise among the coaching ranks, Bill Self finding himself face-to-face with an amped-up Cyclones fan, or several controversial calls, the reality is that this match-up has never failed to deliver over the past few seasons. The latest installment comes tonight as the Cyclones may need to rely on Hilton Magic with its star player DeAndre Kane banged up or otherwise unavailable (he is listed as a game-time decision). Big 12 microsite writers Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) and Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson) take a look at the key storylines going into tonight’s headliner.
Taylor Erickson: Brian, I’ve got to start with perhaps the biggest story line from Saturday’s action in college basketball – the status of DeAndre Kane. Early reports suggested that Kane suffered a lateral sprain and would give it a go tonight against Kansas. If Kane can’t go or isn’t at 100 percent, how big of an impact does this have on this match-up?
Brian Goodman: It’s crazy to think that before the season, no one was really sure what Kane would provide to Fred Hoiberg; but now, he’s viewed as one of the best players in college basketball and has played such an integral part of the Cyclones’ attack that his availability could tip the scales in either direction. If he can play at anywhere close to full strength, Iowa State fans will breathe a big sigh of relief because a healthy Kane can really exploit one of the biggest question marks for Kansas (the backcourt’s shaky defense). Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden have been terrific offensively lately, but they still have a long ways to go to satisfy Bill Self in terms of stopping players on the other end. If Kane is limited, though, look for Hoiberg to turn to Monte Morris, who isn’t the all-around threat of Kane but can create for others and score a little bit himself. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s been exactly one month since Morris committed his last turnover at home. As I mentioned earlier, there’s the matter of Kansas’ backcourt showing some defensive lapses. Regardless of whether Kane can go tonight, what do you make of the Jayhawks’ chances to contain Iowa State’s attack?