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Basketball Preview: Talkin’ #8 West Virginia

This season’s Hardwood Riot Bowl tips off in Morgantown.

NCAA Basketball: Jimmy V Classic-West Virginia at Gonzaga Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Time Out

The Cyclones lost at Hilton by 9 points to the team projected to finish dead last in the Big 12 and lost to Division II Fort Hayes State in their last outing. The game was never in doubt after about 12 minutes, and Iowa State pretty much played in a 10 point hole the entire 2nd half. If you’re looking for positives coming out of that game, Xavier Foster continued to play well, with 10 points on 3-3 shooting off the bench. Rasir Bolton lead the Cyclones with 19 points on 7-10 shooting. Other than that, you’re staring at a team that hasn’t given much reason for optimism.

About West Virginia

Bob Huggins deserves way more credit than he gets. His Mountaineers came into the season expecting to play at a top 15 level, but they’ve been even better than that. Their big guys are good as always. The difference in this year’s West Virginia is the outside shooting. Despite having 2 talented bigs, Miles McBride is leading the team in scoring and rebounding. After winning the Bad Boy Mowers tournament in Sioux Falls to start the season, they showed they can compete with the best in the country, dropping a 5 point result to #1 Gonzaga for their only loss of the season. There isn’t a real weakness here. West Virginia currently ranks #5 on Kenpom with the 13th best offense in the country and the 9th best defense.

Opponent Player To Watch

Iowa State has been getting pummeled inside this season. Derek Culver is West Virginia’s 2nd leading scorer with 13.9 points per game and also averages 10.7 rebounds per game. The 6’10” power forward is unconventional, but is a menace on the offensive glass, as you’d expect from a big guy coached by Bob Huggins. Any hope for the Cyclones to compete starts by slowing down Culver. Despite the improved 3 point shooting, you’d much rather let them bomb away from outside than get beat inside for easy buckets.

What Will Happen

Look, I’d love to come on here and say that Iowa State has a chance to compete in this spot, but I can’t think of anything we’ve seen on the court to believe it. West Virginia is going to score at will on the inside, and probably hit a fair amount of 3s while they’re at it. Iowa State’s offense will be stagnant as always. Hopefully we continue to see more of Xavier Foster, and the other young guys see more of the court. Expect another lopsided result and be pleasantly surprised if it’s anything else.

Iowa State - 56

West Virginia - 82

Pick Three

1 - Pain.

2 - Agony.

3 - Remembering that the Big 12 football championship game is tomorrow.

Game Notes

The Matchup: Iowa State (1-3, 0-1 Big 12) at #8 West Virginia (6-1, 0-0 Big 12)

The Line: West Virginia -15.5, O/U 147

Where: WVU Coliseum (Morgantown, WV)

When: Friday, December 18th 8:00pm CST

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network


Live Stats: