The college basketball world will get to watch the latest edition of the famous “Cy-Hawk” rivalry on Thursday night, when the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-3) visit the in-state rival Iowa State Cyclones (6-3) at James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The Hawkeyes are coming off a big 20-point win over Minnesota, while the Cyclones just finished an upset of No. 16 Seton Hall.
Here is a preview for Thursday night’s game along with odds and a free pick.
By The Numbers
Iowa is averaging 79.6 points per game, just outside of the top 50 in the nation. The Hawkeyes are one of the worst defensive teams, however, ranking 224th with 70.7 points allowed. While it is just okay in rebounding, Iowa is 11th in the nation in assists per game, coming in with 17.9.
Iowa State is another team that likes to push the pace and focus on offense first. The Cyclones are 29th in points, averaging 82.0 per game. They’re also a team with a lackluster defense, ranking just ahead of Iowa with 70.4 points allowed.
Iowa State is also not a great rebounding team but is currently in the top 50 in assists per game.
Who To Watch
Each team has its go-to star who will be fun to watch in this one. For Iowa, it’s 6-11 center Luka Garza, who is averaging 22.5 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Hawkeyes this season. His season highlight was last Friday against Michigan when the big man dropped 44 points against the Wolverines on the road. It was the most points the Wolverines had allowed to any player in the past decade. With his scoring and rebounding ability, along with his low turnover rate, Garza is nearly impossible to stop.
Iowa State has a star of its own in sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has broken out this year into one of the most well-rounded players in college basketball. Haliburton is averaging 16.2 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game, with several near-triple-doubles in the early season.
He is an excellent scorer who is also a great passer while generating steals on the other end. Haliburton is the player who will lead Iowa State’s offensive attack Thursday night and for the duration of the season.
During Iowa’s big win over Minnesota, Garza had some help from Joe Wieskamp. The sophomore guard shot 5-for-7 from three to finish with 23 points and six rebounds. It was his hot shooting that helped spur the Hawkeyes for the game and get their lead up to double-digits into the second half.
When Iowa State defeated Seton Hall, George Conditt IV had a massive role in the game. Another sophomore, Conditt had 17 points in addition to six boards and five blocks against a team with great size. The combo of him and Haliburton has the potential to be as good as any in the nation.
Odds And Pick
In an evenly-matched contest, the home team is getting the slight nod, as the Cyclones are listed at -4, with the moneyline set at -185.
Even though Iowa has dominated the rivalry historically, it has been Iowa State that has had the edge in recent years. The Cyclones have won seven of the last 10 meetings, as well as 17 of the last 25 games played in Ames.
As a whole, home teams have dominated this rivalry, with visitors winning just two of the past 16 matchups.
With both teams operating strong offenses, I’m sticking with the team that has shown it can win even when the shooting is cold. Shooting a season-worst 38.3 percent from the field, Iowa State still managed to buckle down defensively against a good Seton Hall team that has more depth and experience than Iowa.
If Haliburton and Conditt reach double figures again, and they can have a couple of other guys shoot better, I think the Cyclone fans will leave this one happy.
I’m picking Iowa State -4 to win against the rival Hawkeyes.