Here is everything you need to know about the Iowa State Cyclones and the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in our Iowa State vs. Miami NCAA Tournament men’s basketball preview.
Midwest Region – Sweet 16
No. 11 Iowa State (22-12) vs. No. 10 Miami (FL) (25-7), 8:59 p.m. CT, Friday, TBS, United Center, Chicago, Ill.
How They Got Here: Iowa State earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Miami (FL) earned an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Winner gets: A spot in the Elite Eight on Sunday against the winner of the Kansas-Providence game.
Projected starting lineups
Iowa State: G Gabe Kalscheur, G Izaiah Brockington, F Tristan Enaurna, F Aljaz Kunc, G Tyrese Hunter.
Miami: G Isaiah Wong, G Charlie Moore, G Jordan Miller, F Sam Waardenburg, G Kameron McGusty.
Players to watch
Iowa State G Gabe Kalscheur: He enters the Sweet 16 averaging nearly 10 points per game. But it’s the game he had against Wisconsin that the Cyclones wish they could bottle up and get more often. His 22-point game against Wisconsin — a team he was deeply familiar with due to his years in the Big Ten with Minnesota — was perfectly timed. Tyrese Hunter didn’t score much after his career game in the first round and Wisconsin did its best to limit the impact of Izaiah Brockington. Enter Kalscheur, who had his best game since that 30-point outing against Memphis in the NIT Tip-off championship game in November. In between, his offense has been inconsistent. Or perhaps, this is just who he is. After all, his season average is no different than last season at Minnesota (9.2 points in 2020-21). The thing is, the Cyclones need Kalscheur to be more like he was on Sunday and give Hunter and Brockington that third option that could take them further in this tournament.
Miami G Kameron McGusty: The name is familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, right? And then you remember — he USED to be at Oklahoma. Yep, McGusty spent his first two college seasons with Lon Kruger in Norman before transferring after the 2017-18 season to Miami. Now in his fifth college season (he sat out a season after transferring) McGusty is the Hurricanes’ leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. The 6-foot-5 guard also grabs 4.9 rebounds and dishes out 2.5 assists per game. In the second-round win over Auburn he had 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was First-Team All-ACC and as he goes, so go the Hurricanes.
Iowa State: The Cyclones are the first team to win two games in one season and go to the Sweet 16 in the next. It’s an extraordinary turnaround that head coach T.J. Otzelberger credited to his team’s dedication to his style of basketball — defense first. He even leaned on that when he signed players out of the transfer portal, including Kalscheur, Brockington, Washington State’s Aljaz Kunc and UNLV’s Caleb Grill. These Cyclones are not a high-octane offensive team, but they have one of the best defensive efficiency ratings in the country per Ken Pomeroy (No. 5 overall). Brockington, Hunter and Kalscheur form Iowa State’s big three on offense, and while all three have had good games in the tournament, they haven’t occurred at the same time. Kunc and Grill have filled in those blanks when needed. But the formula is clear — hold the opponent under 60 points and score what you can. It’s worked so far. Iowa State has given up 54 and 49 points in two tournament games.
Miami: Head coachJim Larrañaga has built Miami into one of the country’s quietly consistent programs. Miami is one of 24 teams to reach the Sweet 16 three times in the last nine seasons. He’s turned the Hurricanes into a consistently competitive foil to the league’s blue bloods (Duke and North Carolina, which Miami beat once each this season). But he hasn’t gotten Miami where he took, improbably, George Mason — the Final Four. Is this the team? They love to run. According to Synergy Sports, Miami has the best transition game in the nation (1.231 points per possession). Along with McGusty, three other players average double figures — Wong (15.5 points), Moore (12.8 points) and Miller (10.1 points). If Moore’s name is familiar, it should be — he was once in the Big 12 with Kansas. So this team has a Big 12 edge to it, too.
Since the field expanded in 1985, Miami (10) and Iowa State (2) are two of five teams to reach the Sweet 16 one year after winning 10 or fewer games, alongside 1999 Ohio State (8), 1993 Cal (10) and 1989 Minnesota (10).
Iowa State 61, Miami 60. The juxtaposition in this game is stark and their KenPom ratings underscore that. Iowa State’s defensive efficiency rating is No. 5. Miami’s is No. 130. Miami’s offensive efficiency rating is No. 19. Iowa State’s is No. 170. Miami likes to run. Iowa State wants a half-court game. This contest hinges on ISU’s ability to limit Miami’s transition, which means it needs to squeeze time out of possessions and shoot well on offense. I think Iowa State will do just enough to get it done.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.