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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Omaha

Iowa State looks to rebound after consecutive losses.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight figures to be just what the doctor ordered for Cyclone fans following back to back losses at the hands of top 30 KenPom opponents. While Omaha might not be as down as Savannah State or the Citadel, they certainly won’t be as feisty as the Cyclones’ last two opponents. If all goes according to plan, we should see some improved offensive flow, solid defense, and a workmanlike decisive victory. Possibly even some Stu time:

Last Time Out

If you’ve blacked out Thursday’s debacle, I don’t want to bring back any PTSD, so you may want to skip this, but if you missed the recap of the 55-54, overtime slugfest against Cincinnati, Kody has you covered. Iowa State was never able to dictate the tempo, didn’t execute offensively, couldn’t keep the Bearcats off the glass, and couldn’t attack the offensive glass themselves.

While they don’t have any impressive wins, the Mavericks have certainly been competitive against some power five opponents including losses at USC by 10, at Kansas State by 13 and beating Iowa on Saturday, 98-89 in Carver Hawkeye Arena.

About Omaha

This game could resemble a faster paced Indiana State game. If you recall, that game was an early indicator that the Cyclones really haven’t figured things out on the offensive end. Indiana State defended well and forced the Cyclones to try and effectively execute, which they really struggled with. Omaha won’t be scared to play with a little more tempo and should finish toward the top of the Summit League, however, they don’t shoot well from the perimeter, and if ISU can lock down defensively, they can win this game big.

Omaha is one of the faster paced teams in Division 1. While they don’t do anything exceedingly well, with the exception of getting to the charity stripe, they play at a fairly brisk pace, get to the rim and beat teams by outscoring them.

The Mavericks are turnover prone, and that could be a key to Iowa State being able to get out in transition and get early buckets before the defense gets set. Remarkably, more than 78% of the Mavericks half court possessions end up in a 3-point shot attempt, even though they’re shooting just 31% from long range on the season. When they’re not shooting 3’s in the half-court, the Mavericks will look to get the ball in the painted area early in transition or secondary transition. This is where they take advantage of their ability to get to the foul line.

If Iowa State can defend in transition and stay out of foul trouble, they’ll should match up well in the half-court and should be able to get outlet passes and push the tempo, if they can clean up the rebounds.

Players to Watch

Omaha features an extremely balanced lineup that matches up well with Iowa State in terms of size. Guard Tra’Deon Hollins is most effective when he can get to the tin. If Matt and Monte can stay in front of him and force him to shoot from the outside, Iowa State can really stifle their offense.

Inside, Tre’Shawn Thurman is the beneficiary of a lot of drives by the guards in terms of dump off passes and is a factor on the glass. While the Mavericks don’t do a lot of straight posting up, it’ll be interesting to see if Iowa State doubles Thurman in the post, or if they let Holden/Bowie defend him one on one.

While Omaha isn’t overly effective from long range, both Marcus Tyus and Mitchell Hahn have shown the capability to knock down some 3’s if given space.

What to Expect

Iowa State is at its best in transition and while Omaha will be content to play with some pace, they will certainly force Iowa State to have to execute precisely when they aren’t getting out in transition. In the half court, I would hope to see more ball movement, and more actions than a simple top of the key ball screen. There may be some backdoor passing and penetration-kick opportunities available if the Cyclones choose to be aggressive instead of hesitating when they get in the half-court.

Against Cincinnati, Iowa State was often tentative, even on dribble penetration, and often times resulted in discombobulated offensive possessions. Look for the Cyclones to start offensive sets earlier in the shot clock, and really work the defense side to side to get open looks. If Iowa State settles for mid-range jumpers and three point attempts off the dribble, this game could look a lot like the first half against the Mount.

Pick 3

  1. Iowa State shoots less than 16 threes
  2. Burton and Morris have double-doubles
  3. Cyclones force 17 turnovers

#19 (soon to change) Iowa State - 79; Omaha - 61

Game Notes

Game Time: Monday, Dec. 5th, 7:00 p.m. CST

Line: Iowa State -19; O/U - 162.5

TV/Webcast: (John Walters, Eric Heft)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio App (John Walters, Eric Heft) Game Notes: Available here