College Basketball Pick
There aren’t many scenarios that could be worse for Iowa State. With the Big 12/SEC challenge moved to the end of January, the Cyclones may have got the rawest deal. Not only are they notably a worse team away from home, but they get to play one of the most surprising teams in the country, Texas A&M, who sit in first place in the SEC with a top 10 ranking in the polls.
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The Aggies didn’t even make the NCAA Tournament last season, yet here they are looking primed for a top seed with just over a month to go. They lost a couple Games in non-Conference play (Syracuse, Arizona State), but also took down worthy Big 12 foes in Kansas State, Baylor and Texas to go with Gonzaga. A win over Iowa State could go a long way in helping them reach at least a top three seed. In SEC play, it’s been more of the same, although they haven’t played Kentucky yet.
Iowa State has been a little more up-and-down after a loss to Northern Iowa in non-Conference play and then back-to-back losses to Baylor and Texas in Big 12 play. Still, the Cyclones are far from an easy matchup as Oklahoma has found out two different times this year (teams split the series). The Cyclones tend to struggle on the road, but a win here would maybe dissipate one of their previous losses.
The Aggies have a team that can compete with anyone with senior experience, as well as a few stud freshmen to give them some pop. They have decent size and length to go with countless guys that can hit the three ball. There’s a reason why A&M has carved through the SEC so far. They have dealt with the Big 12 just fine as well, but this matchup may be the toughest yet because of what Iowa State brings to the table.
The Cyclones have a smaller, but very similar squad with a number of shooters and six different players averaging at least 8.5 points per Game. They lost senior Naz Long early in the year and that has hurt, but this is still an experienced group. One thing they are lacking is relevant underclassmen, but that won’t matter here.
A&M’s main task will be limiting Georges Niang, who is one of the toughest guys to match up in the country. Niang can shoot it with size, but also has the ability to take it to the hole or Scorein the post. Jalen Jones and Danuel House will probably draw Niang, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Aggies gave him different looks through the night. Elsewhere, limiting Jameel McKay on the offensive glass will be important, as well as preventing Monte Morris from controlling the Game.
Freshman Tyler Davis is battling a foot injury for the Aggies and he’ll be an important part in this Game against McKay as long as he can play. But just like Niang on the other end, Jones and House also present all kinds of mismatches due to their size and shooting ability. Guard Alex Caruso may have the biggest job in this Game, keeping Monte Morris in check. Caruso isn’t a big scorer, but if he can slow Morris down, that will go a long way.
The Aggies aren’t getting much respect because of their name, but they have beaten a number of solid squads on the year and considering Iowa State’s road issues, Texas A&M has what it takes to win this one.
Check back Friday for a Score Prediction