The ISU Men who have received 71 votes for the Top 25 will take on #6 ranked (at this time, will most likely drop in the rankings due to recent losses) Baylor. Baylor who is 21-4 overall and is 3-2 at home during Big 12 Conference play has the task of beating the "pesky" Cyclone team who is 18-7 overall and 3-3 on the road during conference play. Baylor is averaging 72 points per game while allowing 69 points per game leaving an average scoring margin of +3 points per game. The Cyclones on the other hand have scored an average of 71 points but only allowed an average of 65 points per game leaving an average scoring margin of +6 per game.
ISU and Baylor are very similar across almost all stat categories but the big difference maker in this game (and for the season) is Free Throw %. This is where the game will be won or lost for the Cyclones at the Free Throw line, especially on the road against a GOOD team. Don't let Baylor's "slump" (lost to Kansas and Mizzu both good teams) fool you. This is a good team!
What I would like to see:
I would like to see Cyclone star player Royce White take control of this game early. I would like to see him look for his shot more at the beginning of the game and look to get teammates involved based off his productions. While Royce is liability at the charity stripe he is a good tester of a teams depth. Royce the guy on this Cyclone team that demands defensive help. Get Baylor in foul trouble early and allow our better shooters to go to the line later in the first half to try and gain a lead. Obviously, if you have watched any Iowa State game this year you would know we live and die by the 3 ball. If the 3 doesn't fall I don't see us having much of a chance but if the 3 falls and we can get Baylor in early foul trouble I like out chances. Early foul trouble for Baylor would force them to get in to their bench which hasn't proven to be that deep this year. I believe that this could set the tone for ISU in the first half and possibly extend some confidence in to the second half.
What I hope I don't see:
The Cyclones are on the verge of making a Top 25 appearance for the first time in ..... well lets face it a long time.While this is not a "young" team it is a young team. A lot of these players have not been in a position where they have been nationally ranked before and I fear that the pressure of cracking that big board of national recognition may enter in to the minds of our "young" players. If the Cyclones cannot focus on the issue at hand and allow the moment to become bigger than the game this could easily become a blow out in Baylor's favor.
This has been a good year for the Cyclones in almost all sport categories and as a Cyclone fan I couldn't be happier about it. I feel our programs are heading in the right direction and I am excited about the things to come. I do feel the need to put out a disclaimer to all of the Hawk fans who may be reading this. I do see sports objectively and even though I am and always will be a Cyclone fan when it comes time to give the Hawks their due it will be there. As painful as that was to say I leave you with one final thought.....
I know this was for Kansas but the the message is the same .... LET'S GO STATE!