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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Western Illinois

The Cyclones will attempt a blitzkrieg of the Fighting Leathernecks of Western Illinois

NCAA Basketball: Puerto Rico Tip-Off-Iowa State vs Boise State Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Last Time Out

Iowa State held on for another tournament championship their last time on the floor, with a 75-64 win over Boise State in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It was their sixth tournament championship (3 Big 12 titles, 3 non-conference tournament titles) since 2013.

Nick Weiler-Babb flirted with a triple-double once again (10 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists) while Donovan Jackson paced the Cyclones with 26 points including Iowa State last 13 points of the game.

About Western Illinois

The Leathernecks of Western Illinois hail from the Summit League basketball conference. They are the only non-military institution to have a nickname derived from a branch of the military. Western Illinois adopted the official nickname of the Marine Corps in 1927.

The Fighting Leathernecks come into this tilt guns a blazin’ with a 4-0 record including a resume building 102-25 win over Calvary. Head coach Billy Wright and his troops march into this battle ranked 298th on KenPom.com.

Western Illinois enlisted in Division I following the 1980-81 season. They’ve been drafted twice to play in a postseason tournament since their move to Division I. Both times they have fought in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament.

Players to Watch

The Leathernecks are led by seasoned veteran Dalan Ancrum, a 6’6” senior. Ancrum comes into the game averaging over 25 points and 7 rebounds per game. He is one of the most highly used players in college basketball thus far firing 36.1% of his teams shots when he is one the floor. He can score from anywhere on the court shooting 47.6% from three point range and 57.4% overall.

Brandon Gilbeck is the last line of defense for the Fighting Leathernecks. Standing at 6’11”, the 235 pound junior blocks 15.5% of two point shots when he is on the floor good for the 13th best rate in the nation. He also averages over 16 points and 7 rebounds per contest.

Kobe Webster, a young member of Western Illinois’ infantry, has provided some quality minutes for the Leathernecks in his first year of service. The freshman guard has ambushed enemies from long distance in two games against Division I competition connecting on 50% of his attempts.

What to Expect

While the Fighting Leathernecks have a plethora of weapons, the Cyclones have some ammunition of their own. For as good as the Cyclones looked in their last three games there were still areas for improvement in their attack. The Cyclones have gone back to some basic training during their week off of games and class.

Steve Prohm has shown his chops as a solid recruiter and has recently shown his ability to put his troops in the best position to win as well.

There will be some sluggish times for Iowa State early as I don’t think Western Illinois is as bad as they appear. The Cyclones may struggle to score inside against the Leathernecks and their shot blocking ability. However, Western Illinois has fallen victim to friendly fire often this season turning the ball over on 23.3% of their offensive possessions. This is too high of a rate to compete with Iowa State inside Hilton Coliseum.

Donovan Jackson will get back to being a sniper inside of Hilton Coliseum. Nick Weiler-Babb will continue his flirtation with a triple-double and Lindell Wigginton will have his best game to date in Ames.

The Cyclones get their first regular season win inside Hilton Coliseum this season.

Iowa State- 84 Western Illinois- 71

Pick 3

  1. Dalan Ancrum leads all scorers with 24 points.
  2. Nick Weiler-Babb records another double-double, falling just short of a triple-double.
  3. Jeff Beverly will make a three-point basket.

Game Notes

Game Time: Saturday, November 25th, 7 PM

Line: Iowa State (-18.5), O/U (141.5)

TV: Cyclones.TV