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Iowa State vs. Iowa Basketball: Best of the 2000s

A 2000s to present matchup of Iowa State’s and Iowa’s greatest players.

UAB v Iowa State Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images


This is a matchup of Iowa State’s and Iowa’s best basketball players from the year 2000 to the present in a game played by NCAA rules. In order to settle this rivalry, we need to put down some guidelines so that it is fair for everybody.

  1. Players who played in the 1999-2000 season until the present day for Iowa State or Iowa are the only players eligible to be selected for the squad.
  2. Players have to have finished their college career with the Cyclones or the Hawkeyes to participate. This means no guys like Wesley Johnson for Iowa State (transferred to Syracuse) and no Tyler Smith (transferred to Tennessee) for Iowa. Transfers into the program are acceptable and going pro early is acceptable.
  3. Players and coaches are assumed to be balling/coaching at the level they were when they completed the best season at their respective school. So if a player had a better junior year than senior year, we assume they are playing at their junior year level.
  4. Players who went on to play overseas or in the NBA are NOT necessarily considered better than players who didn’t make that jump. They are strictly judged upon how they performed in college. For example, Chris Babb isn’t automatically on the Cyclone roster because he made it to the league.
  5. Players are judged independent of how their team did that season. For example, Craig Brackins was an incredible player for Iowa State, but had little help around him and the team was mediocre. He doesn’t get penalized for that.


The squads will be made up of the following:

  • 1 Head Coach
  • 10 best players (with some discretion for positional and playing style fit)
  • 1 power scrub who warmed the pine constantly and will forever be a legend on campus

Obviously this is all hypothetical. It gets a little tricky figuring out who to include and who to leave out as well as balancing lineups, but I did the best that I could. I encourage heavy debate in the comments. If you agree or disagree with anything, feel free to state your case.

Alright, now let’s get to the good stuff.

Iowa State

Head Coach

For the Cyclones this was a tough decision. Larry Eustachy led Iowa State to an Elite Eight in 2000 and the Cyclones had a two seed in the tournament the next year. He did have two poor seasons before he was fired though. I’m taking Fred Hoiberg. The Mayor righted the ship in year one and then took ISU to the next four NCAA tournaments. One of those teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen and is undoubtedly Iowa State’s best team of the last 10 years.

UConn v Iowa State Photo by Elsa/Getty Images


G - Jamaal Tinsley: This slick point guard was one of two stars that led Iowa State to back to back Big 12 Championships. A dynamo with the ball, Tinsley was Big 12 player of the year and a consensus All-American in his last year with the Cyclones. Watch how he messes with fools.

G - DeAndre Kane: This is my favorite Cyclone of this era. He only played one season for ISU, but was an absolute beast. He bullied any poor defender into the paint and could stroke from three, shooting 40% on the year. The dude hit a game winner in the Dance against North Carolina to send Iowa State to the Sweet Sixteen.

F - Royce White: A truly unique player, White played for the Cyclones for only one season, but was a brutal matchup. As a 6-8 point/forward, White did it all. He led Iowa State in almost all important offensive statistics and carried the Cyclones to the second round of the NCAA tournament in only Hoiberg’s second year. He also blew past Anthony Davis for a dunk and declared he was the best player on the floor.

F - Georges Niang: Fan favorite and noted Hawk troll, Niang is one of Iowa State’s all time greatest players. He is second on the all-time scoring list for ISU, won the most games in Cyclone history for his career, and played in four NCAA tournaments. He got buckets from range and had a silky post up game. He was named a consensus All-American in his senior year and did this.

F - Marcus Fizer: The big man was named Big 12 Player of the Year and a 1st team All-American in 1999-2000. He averaged 23 points and 8 boards per game his final season while leading Iowa State to the Elite Eight. Completely unstoppable down low, Fizer and Tinsley were one of the best duos in Big 12 history.


G - Monte Morris: His role is a little redundant with Tinsley, Kane and White starting, but he is too good to leave off the roster. He will run the show off the bench.

G - Jake Sullivan: Could have easily swapped Jake out for Michael Nurse, but this team lacks pure shooting and he is as smooth of a shooter as Iowa State has ever had.

G - Curtis Stinson: This bulldog is a great playmaker off the bench. He can come in and get buckets as well as get everyone involved.

Iowa State v Oklahoma State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

F - Melvin Ejim: This former Big 12 Player of the Year is the glue guy off the bench. Ejim always played hard and was incredibly versatile. Hoiberg can slot him at almost any position.

F - Craig Brackins: The former 1st round draft pick is coming off the bench. He cannot be single covered down low and will be trouble for the Hawks.

Also considered: Diante Garrett, Tyray Pearson, Marquis Gilstrap, Jackson Vroman, Jared Homan, Mike Taylor, Michael Nurse, Martin Rancik, Scott Christopherson and Will Blalock.

Power Scrub

This one was incredibly tough. Stu Nezlek is the fan favorite nowadays. He gets the Hilton crowd going more than anything when gets off the bench to check into the game. Despite this, I have to choose Andrew Skoglund here. Look at this dude! This guy was recruited as a 7-foot project for the Cyclones and never panned out. He rode the bench for four years straight, shot 26% from the floor in his career and never averaged more than 1 point per game. He also got a 35 on his ACT, so he’s clearly got the GPA booster bonus. As a height bonus, when Skogs walked into college parties, everyone could see that the Cyclones had arrived.


Head Coach

The Hawks have quite the conundrum in the coaching spot as well. Steve Alford went to three Big Dances in his tenure, including winning a Big Ten tournament and collecting a 3-seed only to be bounced in the first round by some school named Northwestern State. Alford had a bunch of mediocre seasons mixed in there as well. Fran McCaffery was leading a similar coaching trajectory to Hoiberg until this year, but has still gone to an NIT final and then three consecutive NCAA tourneys. He’s the pick.

Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals: Purdue v Iowa Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


G - Peter Jok: A pure shooter, Jok is averaging 24 ppg this season. He was an integral part of Iowa’s NCAA Tournament team last year. He will have to carry the point guard duties in the lineup.

G - Adam Haluska: The best scorer that Iowa has had in a long time. This Iowa State transfer led the Big Ten in scoring his last year, when the Hawks were bad. He could shoot the three and was very athletic on the drive.

F - Aaron White: White is a bouncy, jack of all trades player who can do everything on the court. He was very versatile, can guard many positions and get buckets in a number of different ways.

F - Jarrod Uthoff - Dropped 30 in the first half against ISU in the first half last year, only to do nothing in the second half during the Cyclone comeback. He can stroke from deep, deep range and has some slick moves off the bounce. Also, a huge shot blocker on defense.

F - Reggie Evans: An absolute bruiser who gobbles boards down low, Evans will be a tough matchup for Iowa State. He can push around anyone under the rim and will feast on offensive rebounds and putbacks.

Iowa Hawkeyes v Ohio State Buckeyes Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images


G - Jeff Horner: A point guard who can fill it up with range, Horner started for the Hawks for his entire career and played in multiple NCAA Tournaments.

G - Devyn Marble: Marble is a bucket getter who is quick off the bounce and can make tough shots. He was a scoring staple in Fran McCaffery’s early years.

G - Luke Recker: Absolutely deadly from deep, Recker was Reggie Evans’ sidekick in the early 2000s. He was the star on a couple very good Hawkeye teams.

G - Dean Oliver: Oliver was the go-to guy on Iowa’s teams in the early 2000s. He could score from three or get into the paint and was a great facilitator as well.

F - Greg Brunner: A fundamentally sound banger on the block, Brunner, Horner and Haluska led the Hawks to two straight NCAA tournaments and a Big Ten tournament title. Brunner was always fighting for rebounds and loose balls and played incredibly hard.

Also considered: Chauncey Leslie, Tony Freeman, Melsahn Basabe, Anthony Tucker, Matt Gatens and Justin Johnson.

Power Scrub

John Lickliter is the man for this spot. He looks like the kid no one ever picked in recess flag football. He played one season for his dad in Todd Lickliter’s last year at Iowa before he was canned. The team was awful. They only won 10 games and this kid actually averaged 8 minutes per game, but compared to the players we have competing here, he is absolutely a scrub. Please watch this highlight package of him. It’s glorious.

The Game

Iowa State has absolutely elite playmaking to start the game, but Iowa has a ton of versatility and length on defense. It will take Iowa State a while to get adjusted to their personnel. Peter Jok and Adam Haluska have a lot of trouble guarding Jamaal Tinsley and DeAndre Kane.

Iowa has three bonafide shooters and they start the game getting open and raining threes. The Cyclones adjust to force the drive and make the Hawks finish, which becomes a little bit more effective for ISU. Reggie Evans has quite a few offensive rebounds and becomes a problem on the glass.

As the second unit comes in, Curtis Stinson and Monte Morris run flawless pick and rolls with Craig Brackins. The offense flows easier with this unit on the floor. Melvin Ejim matches up well defensively and Jake Sullivan spreads the floor for Iowa State.

The Cyclones settle down in the second part of the first half and let Royce White, Georges Niang and Marcus Fizer operate to make plays from the post. White is especially an issue because no one in Iowa’s lineup can matchup with him. He has a big half, getting buckets on the block and dishing for layups and kickout threes.

In the second half, the number of playmakers Iowa State has control the game. They get great looks on offense every time down the floor. Although Iowa makes a fair number of threes and scraps for offensive rebounds, it isn’t enough offense to hang with the Cyclones.

Royce White flirts with a triple double at 8 points, 10 assists and 7 boards to win MVP, Andrew Skoglund punches a Jeff Horner floater into the third row in the last minute and the Cyclones claim victory 84 - 72.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know how you’d see the game playing out and if you’d include anyone different in each team’s roster!