By: Michael Mainzer
Normally home to the underperforming Chicago Bulls, there’s a new team in Chicago this weekend that Coach Fred Hoiberg will be rooting for at the United Center.
The Iowa State Cyclones face up against the Virginia Cavaliers as both teams try to extend their March Madness magic and advance further in the tournament.
Iowa State comes into this game after knocking off two double digit seeded teams, with a #1 seeded Virginia team pleasantly awaiting them for what should be a grind-it-out game in the Windy City. Similarly, the Cavaliers rushed over a #16 seeded Hampton team, followed by a way too close victory over #9 seeded Butler to get to the Sweet 16.
Sure, the Cavaliers, who commonly call themselves the “Hoos” are known for their defense, and the Clones are known for their offense, but saying that these teams are polar opposites isn’t all that true. KURE sports is here to help you to dive a little deeper into these teams.
(All statistics in this section are courtesy of kenpom.com)
The Cyclones Offense vs The Cavaliers Defense
Led by star forward Georges Niang, the Cyclones offense currently ranks 2nd in the nation in offensive efficiency (120.6) by utilizing their floor spacing and shooting ability. The clones can play fast or slow, as shown in their previous two games, but they do rely on wing players like Matt Thomas and Abdel Nader to hit shots when stars Morris or Niang need help. The Hoos famous “pack line defense”, currently ranked 4th in the nation, will do everything they can from stopping Morris and Niang to get into the paint. It will be interesting to see who head coach Tony Bennett decides to guard Niang with in this game. Star guard Malcolm Brogdon is the best defender for the Hoos, but is not used to guarding in the post, a tactic Coach Prohm is likely to use if Virginia opts to use Brogdon on Niang. If the Hoos go a different route and place their taller, stronger defenders on Niang, look for him to work the perimeter and use his well known plethora of moves to create for the Clones.
3 Notes For the Basketball Junkies
Virginia hedges hard and high on ball screens, so if Niang is the screener, that should generate open looks for Niang from three.
Virginia also likes to double in the post when necessary. While McKay will see little to no post ups in this game, Niang will. If Virginia doubles, their rotations are going to have to be fast, considering the passing ability of Georges.
Virginia allows you to shoot threes. Yes, they are a great defensive team, but the contested looks are something that Matt Thomas, Deonte Burton, and Abdel Nader have proven they can make. This very well may be the difference maker in the game.
The Cavaliers Offense vs The Cyclones Defense
Defense may get all the love for the Cavaliers, but their offense has supplanted itself as one of the best in the nation as well. Coming in at 6th in the nation, (119.3) the Cavaliers use a multitude of off-ball screens to generate open looks for their wing players. London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon do a great job at getting in the lane and creating for others. The Hoos also have the ability to go down low to big men Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey. For the Cyclones, Jameel McKay will have his work cut out for him guarding these bigs, and as usual, grabbing the majority of the boards for Iowa State.
3 Notes for the Basketball Junkies
The Cavaliers play at the slowest pace in the entire country, averaging a mere 61.3 possessions per 40 minutes. This should allow Iowa State to avoid Virginia from going on a run, and keep it close towards the end of the game.
The Cavaliers, while efficient on offense, don’t get to the line all that much, as they average a trip to the charity stripe on a little less than a third of every possession. This bodes great for Iowa State, who are not very deep and need to keep their stars out of foul trouble.
The Cavaliers are heavily reliant on Malcolm Brogdon for scoring (18.4 PPG), so while it won’t be an easy task, Matt Thomas and the Cyclones are going to have to really key in on him and make life difficult for the ACC Player of the Year.
Prediction: Virginia wins 68-63, however a cyclone victory is what KURE sports and the rest of Cyclone Nation will be rooting for. Amass, hopefully they can pull together a victory, in front of Hoiberg, one more time.