The Kansas Jayhawks are clearly the better team entering tonight’s game. Anyone who thinks the Iowa State Cyclones will do more damage in March is likely off their medication. With all that said, expect a battle in the Hilton Coliseum.
For as good as they’ve been this season, the Jayhawks have failed to put power conference teams away. This team has not conditioned itself for the grueling road slate in conference play. Kansas has played only two true road games, with trips to Cal and Michigan. Also, a young Wolverines squad KU just played took them to the wire.
Fortunately, for the Hawks, they have the senior leadership and sheer talent to be in control tonight in a tough venue. The Morris brothers should be a force in the paint, and lead the way. Iowa State plays a very small lineup featuring only one true big, Jamie Vanderbeken, which will quickly present a mismatch for the red and blue. Despite their size mismatch, look for Iowa State’s guards to be the difference, if they hope to win the rebounding battle. Darion “Jake” Anderson, a 6’2” guard, currently leads the team on the boards with 8.5 rebounds per game, while Melvin Ejim is also a factor on the boards with 7.1 rpg.
In their trip to Ann Arbor, the Jayhawks failed to convert offensively. This is a problem that must be fixed immediately. If the Jayhawks can knock down early shots and create fast break points, they could run away with this game. Unfortunately, this is no given. Josh Selby will need to bounce back from a tough game against Michigan and get his shot falling if he is going to be a factor in this ballgame.
The teams paired tonight will both be playing small on the perimeter. The Jayhawks have put out a three guard lineup this year with a trio of Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed and Selby. Expect that lineup to be mirrored with Anderson, Scott Christopherson and leading scorer Diante Garrett.
Garrett leads the Cyclones in both scoring and assists. Kansas will need to keep the ball from Garrett and make the offense run through the other guards, if they want to slow this offense. Look for the Jayhawks to press early and often in an attempt to accomplish this task.
The game should be exciting. On a neutral floor, the Jayhawks would likely win by twenty or more. Tonight, my bold prediction at the Coliseum is a 73-68 Jayhawk victory.
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Written by Shaun Albin