Tuesday is a big night in the Big 12, in part because of the matchup between the no. 9 Kansas Jayhawks and the no. 15 Iowa State Cyclones. Both teams lost last week and stumbled in the polls, so each is looking to get back on track. At home, the Jayhawks are listed as 11.5-point home favorites, with the over/under set at 141.5 points.
There is no question that Iowa State is the biggest surprise in the country this season. The Cyclones went winless in the Big 12 last season and won just two games. However, they are 13-2 this season despite losing two of their last three games with the start of conference play.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are also off to a fast start, going 12-2 and looking like a Final Four contender. On the other hand, Kansas suffered a puzzling loss to a short-handed Texas Tech team over the weekend. It’s also difficult to find many impressive wins for the Jayhawks this season outside of their season opener against Michigan State.
Back to Front
Kansas has been led all season by an excellent backcourt, most notably Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. Agbaji was good last year but has taken things to a new level this season, averaging 20.5 points per game and shooting 47% from the perimeter, while Braun has become more than just a shooter, averaging 16.4 points per game. However, the play of point guard Remy Martin has become a concern, as he’s losing playing time to Dajuan Harris, who is still coming along.
Meanwhile, the Kansas frontcourt has been a huge disappointment, especially established players David McCormack and Jalen Wilson. Outside of a recent double-double against Oklahoma State, McCormack has had a rough season, as his scoring has dropped from 13.4 to just 8.6 points per game this season. Likewise, Wilson has struggled to find consistency, scoring 20 points in the loss to Texas Tech but just two points in his previous game and averaging just 6.8 points per game on the season.
The transfer portal has been good to Iowa State, giving them Izaiah Brockington, who is leading the team with 17 points and 8.1 rebounds per game after transferring from Penn State. Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur has also been key, although he managed just four points and fouled out in the loss to Oklahoma over the weekend. Finally, freshman Tyrese Hunter has taken the reins at point guard, dishing out 4.8 assists per game while also scoring more than 10 points per game.
However, much like Kansas, it’s been a different story for the ISU frontcourt. Washington State transfer Aljaz Kunc can be a factor when he’s knocking down shots, although he’s scored two points or less in three of his last four games. The Cyclones are also lacking in size and rebounding outside of Kunc and senior George Conditt, which is why a 6’4’’ guard like Brockington is the team’s leading rebounder.
Something to Prove
Both teams have something to prove after disappointing results over the weekend. But despite some concerns about Iowa State coming off a loss, the Cyclones have proven that they can play with quality teams, making the 11.5-point spread way too big. Bet on Iowa State to at least beat the spread on Tuesday night.
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