The Cyclones are headed back to the NCAA Tournament, and are in Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Iowa State is coming off an impressive Big 12 Tournament title win over the weekend, where we saw the team come together and get things done for each other. Now, it’s win or go home. Let’s take a quick look at the Buckeyes.
Last Time Out
Over the weekend, the Cyclones navigated their way through the Big 12 Tournament, taking the tournament title convincingly with victories over Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas. Iowa State out scored all three teams by a combined score of 33 points. It was the Cyclones fourth Big 12 Tournament Championship in the last six years.
In the win over Kansas, Iowa State’s top scorer was Lindell Wigginton with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists. Marial Shayok added 15 points with four rebounds and three assists for the Cyclones. Shayok was also name Most Outstanding Player of the entire Big 12 Tournament. His play was crucial over the weekend including a big time shot against Kansas State that gave the Cyclones the lead for good in that game.
About Ohio State
The Buckeyes are led by their second-year coach Chris Holtmann. They are 19-14 on the season and they finished 8th in the Big Ten standings this year. Many would classify this season as a rebuilding year for the Buckeyes, and if you’re rebuilding and can make the NCAA Tournament, you are doing things right.
This will be the seventh meeting between the Cyclones and the Buckeyes, with Ohio State winning every previous meeting, including our least favorite in 2013 during the NCAA Tournament, where a man who shall remain nameless hit a game winning three pointer over our beloved Georges Niang. Thankfully, this time he will be a no show.
According to KenPom, the Buckeyes are the 45th overall team in the country, with an adjusted offensive efficiency good for 75th in the country. What will test Iowa State is their tempo, as the Buckeyes are one of the slowest teams in that area. The Cyclones typically don’t play well against teams who methodically use up their possessions and look for great shots, but Iowa State just so happened to play two teams like that over the course of the past weekend. As a team, the Buckeyes only average 69 points a game as well as being an average team shooting from 3pt range and inside the arc.
Defense is where Ohio State attempts to make their bread. The Buckeyes are ranked 27th in the adjusted defensive efficiency, which still ranks them behind Iowa State’s last two opponents, Kansas and Kansas State. The Buckeyes do a decent job of forcing teams into shooting below their normal average, and if you get into a bit of a funk offensively, they can take advantage of that. Iowa State should be able to play a bit more freely and not worry too much about their turnover bug as of late, as the Buckeyes don’t turnover teams all that often, which is certainly something Iowa State can take advantage of.
Opponent Player To Watch
Ohio State’s success hinges on the ability of Kaleb Wesson. The sophomore forward can be an absolute monster inside for the Buckeyes when he gets it going and can stay out of foul trouble. Wesson has fouled out 6 times in big ten play this year, he has also reached four fouls in 10 of the 19 Big Ten games this season. When he puts it all together, I certainly thing he was a top ten forward in the entire NCAA. Wesson averages just over 14 points a game for Ohio State, he also pulls down around 7 rebounds a game. At 270 pounds, Wesson is versatile. He can beat you from inside the arc as well as from outside. Wesson has shot 35% from three point range this season, while Iowa State will have to be tough inside on Wesson, they have to be on alert for him to be trailing at any moment and popping up a 3 pointer during the game. This certainly will be a challenge for Iowa State’s post guys on Friday night.
What Will Happen
A lot of this will depend on which Iowa State team shows up and how much the Cyclones can limit Kaleb Wesson. If we get the team that was in Kansas City, Iowa State can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Thankfully, I think we are going to get that team. While the Buckeyes do have some talent, I think they are very limited. The defensive stagnancy of the Buckeyes does worry me a bit, but if the Cyclones can execute with great ball movement, it shouldn’t be a problem for them.
I think this one will be close early on while the Cyclones get their feet under them, but eventually they will get this to double digits and the Buckeyes maybe close the gap late in the game. Give me the Cyclones to cover the spread of 5.5 points.
The Pick: Iowa State-77 Ohio State-71
1- Cam Lard hits two fouls in under five minutes
2- Lindell Wigginton hits four three pointers
3- Greg Oden is held scoreless by Michael Jacobson
The Matchup: No. 24 Iowa State (23-11, 9-9 Big 12) vs. Ohio State (19-14, 8-12 Big Ten)
Where: Tulsa, Okla. - BOK Center (17,996)
When: Friday, March 22, approx. 8:50 p.m. (CST)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio/Westwood OneCRN Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)
TV: TBSTalent: Brad Nessler (PxP), Steve Lavin (Analyst); Jim Jackson (Analyst); Evan Washburn (reporter)
Webcast: March Madness on Demand
Sirius/XM/Internet: 137/203/973 (internet)
Live Stats: ncaa.com