Pick – Analysis
While Kansas is still in first-place in the Big 12, the Jayhawks can’t add another regular season title to their name just yet because Iowa State is creeping behind them. The Cyclones have been on a tear as of late and face a pesky Baylor squad that has already beat them.
since losing Four straight road Games, it looks like Iowa State has finally come around, winning back-to-back Games away from home at Oklahoma State and Texas. The Cyclones only have two road Games left this season, both of them being at bottom-of-the-Conference teams. Kansas still has a travel to Oklahoma to play a team that Game them some trouble in LAwrence. The Cyclones are only a Game back and could push KU to a split title.
However, Baylor is not a team to overlook. The Bears have been consistent and tough all season and remain in the Top 25. They just dealt a 27-point beat down of a collapsing Kansas State team over the weekend. The Bears are big and already have confidence from beating ISU earlier this year.
The Bears won 74-73 in the first meeting and were ahead the entire Game. As is almost always the case for this team, they dominated the boards by a plus-12 margin. All this while their best player Kenny Chery only shot 4-of-16 from the field. The difference between that Game and this one is the factor Jameel McKay has become for the Cyclones, averaging about nine boards per Game over his last six Games. His presence has been a huge bonus to this squad in the paint, and on the boards.
In addition to that, Iowa State is close to unstoppable in Ames, having not lost there all season. Their last three home Games have been won by an average of almost 25 points per Game. Take that into account before betting Baylor in this Game.
Even with McKay, the size of Baylor will still be a problem for Iowa State. Rico Gathers is an absolute beast averaging a double-double per Game on the season and he had 15 rebounds in the first matchup. Other guys like Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince also pose sizable threats at their positions. The most important piece for Baylor in this Game is the play of Chery, who struggled in the first Game. Chery hasn’t done a whole lot in recent Games and he’ll need to come up big on the road if the Bears want to win, or even cover.
The pace of the Cyclones is a problem for anyone and if they’re hitting their shots like they usually at home, it’s a tough road. They have six guys averaging at least 10 points per Game if that says anything about this team and all of them can shoot the three-ball outside of McKay. Their ability to stretch the floor with Georges Niang usually poses problems for the defense. And with the way McKay has been playing, he could factor out what Gathers does on the boards.
Iowa State still has a shot to get a piece of the Big 12 regular season title, and it’s unlikely this team will take its foot off the gas here, especially at home.
Our Prediction – Iowa State by 7