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Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ West Virginia

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Help us basketball gods!

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Texas Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State has been struggling as of late to say the least. Now, the Cyclones enter the final week of the regular season searching for answers as they travel to West Virginia. Just win baby.

Last Time Out

Iowa State took a roundhouse kick to the face in Austin, and that may be putting it lightly. The Longhorns didn’t take it easy on Iowa State, as the Cyclones fell 86-69.

Iowa State never got anything going on either end of the floor, allowing Texas to control the vast majority of the game. The closest Iowa State got to Texas in the second half was a 15 point margin, and Texas immediately stonewalled any attempt at a minimal Cyclone run.

Marial Shayok led the way for Iowa State with 22 points, Lindell Wigginton added in 16, and George Conditt, in replacement of Cameron Lard, scored 11 points off the bench.

There’s really not much to talk about here.

About West Virginia

The Mountaineers also badly need a win after losing nine of their last 11 games. West Virginia is averaging 72.2 points on 41 percent shooting while allowing a conference-worst 76.6 points on 45.2 percent shooting. The West Virginia defense ranks as one of the worst in major college basketball, as it sits at just 134th in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom. On offense, Bob Huggins’ crew really struggles, ranking 114th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 312th (!!) in effective field goal percentage, and turn the ball over on an astounding 22.5% of their possessions, good for 329th (!!!) in the country.

However, one area where WVU excels is an area that Iowa State has struggled mightily at times - rebounding. The Mountaineers are 9th in the country in offensive rebounding, which could (and probably will) result in at least a few extra scoring opportunities.

West Virginia is not a good basketball team, but if the Cyclones continue the trend of lackadaisical defense and rebounding, this game isn’t going to go anywhere near as well as it should or that we want it to. Given that it’s in Morgantown, that absolutely leaves the possibility open to another disappointing loss.

Opponent Player To Watch

Jermaine Haley has been on a bit of a tear lately for West Virginia. The junior guard is averaging 18 points a game over his last three, and Saturday against Oklahoma Haley dropped 23 points on the Sooners on 9-11 shooting on the afternoon. Haley’s offensive output has risen as of late, thought it may have something to do with WVU not having enough warm bodies left on the team, and and Haley finding his niche in the offense. Regardless, Iowa State got burned by a hot shooting guard last weekend, so hopefully they can avoid the same scenario tonight.

What Will Happen

Iowa State is desperately in need of a win. Not the type of win that helps them get into the NCAA tournament, but the type of win that boosts confidence and restores good habits, because, for whatever reason, the Cyclones have none. Nick Weiler-Babb’s status appears to be cloudy and will not play tonight, leaving the door open for Lindell Wigginton to start and hopefully provide some sort of spark to begin fueling an Iowa State post season run.

I really believe Iowa State can win this game and win it in dominating fashion. Though we have been proven very wrong this season. Like, a lot. I don’t think that’s the case tonight. West Virginia’s defense is one of the worst in the country and they just don’t have any bodies left on the team that make me believe they can win this game. Give me the Cyclones in this one.

The Pick: Iowa State- 69 West Virginia-60

Pick Three

1- Lindell Wigginton leads the team in scoring

2- Terrence Lewis provides 8+ minutes off the bench

3- George Conditt and Cameron Lard outplay Michael Jacobson down low

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (20-9, 9-7 Big 12) vs. West Virginia (11-18, 3-13 Big 12)

Where: Morgantown, W.Va. - WVU Coliseum (14,000)

When: Wednesday, March 6, 6 p.m. (CST)

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/TuneIn Radio Talent: John Walters (PxP), Eric Heft (Analyst)

TV: ESPNU Talent: Mark Neely (PxP), David Padgett (Analyst)

Webcast: WatchESPN

Sirius/XM/Internet: 84/84/84 (internet)

Live Stats: Cyclonestats.com