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Men’s Basketball Preview: We’re Talkin’ UCONN

Championship basketball in Portland!

The Cyclones’ Last Time Out

Iowa State knocked off #1 North Carolina on Friday, winning by a final score of 70-65. Caleb Grill led the way, scoring 31 points on scorching shooting, including 7-11 from three point range. Robert Jones and Jaren Holmes played strong supporting roles, and a host of Cyclones contributed defensively.

UCONN’s Last Time Out

The Huskies easily handled a strong challenge in #18 Alabama, winning by a final of 82-67 to reach the title game. Big man Adama Sanogo led the way with 25 points on 9-15 shooting, including 1-4 from deep. Though Alabama out-rebounded UCONN, the Huskies forced 21 Bama turnovers. Shooting percentages were very equal across the board, so the turnover margin was truly the difference in the game.

Player to Watch

Like last game, another big man takes center stage here in Adama Sanago. The 6’9”, 245 pound junior center does a little bit of everything, including passing, shooting from range, and rebounding. Jordan Hawkins has a sweet stroke from 3, making him another name to keep an eye on.

Pick 3

  1. Jazz Kuncz splashes 2+ three pointers
  2. Osun Osunniyi rebounds with a 12 point performance
  3. Iowa State forces 20+ turnovers

What Will Happen

This is definitely going to be a tough test for the Cyclones, as the Huskies are very solid on defense and downright explosive from three point land, as evidenced by nailing 17 threes against Oregon earlier this week. With Sanogo inside and shooting out, Iowa State is going to have to be smart with how they choose to double him, if they do at all. Crips close outs will also be needed, as UCONN has players willing to make the smart pass to find a plethora of shooters. One weakness is that they don’t play a true PG, so expect the Cyclones to apply some pressure to ball handlers.

If the Cyclones can play Sanogo 1:1 in the post, it’ll give them the opportunity to stay close to shooters and chase them off the three point line. It will take tremendous effort in the half court to avoid being buried from behind the arc if UCONN gets hot.

In all, this seems like a very difficult opponent for the Cyclones to crack. However, I predict the Cyclone bigs can compete with Sanogo, giving Kalscheur, Holmes, and Lipsey 1:1 matchups with shooters. Unless they go nuclear from deep, expect ISU to keep it close. Iowa State should be able to keep it within 6, and maybe hang around with a chance to win late.