Big 12 Tournament: Iowa State vs. Kansas Basketball Preview, Prediction
Here is everything you need to know about Iowa State and Kansas in our Cyclones vs. Jayhawks Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.
Game 7: No. 5 Iowa State (19-12) vs. No. 1 Kansas (26-6), 6 p.m. CT, Friday
Season series (1-1): Kansas def. Iowa State, 62-60, in Lawrence, Kan., on Jan. 14; Iowa State def. Kansas, 68-53, in Ames, Iowa, on Feb. 4.
Big 12 Tournament results: Iowa State: def. Baylor, 78-72 (quarterfinals); Kansas: def. West Virginia, 78-61 (quarterfinals).
Winner gets: a berth in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game.
Projected starting lineups
Iowa State: G Tamin Lipsey, G Jaren Holmes, G Gabe Kalscheur, F Tre King, F Robert Jones.
Kansas: G Gradey Dick, G Dajuan Harris Jr., G/F Kevin McCullar Jr., F Jalen Wilson, F KJ Adams.
Player to watch
G Tamin Lipsey: The freshman was an All-Big 12 Freshman selection by both Heartland College Sports and by the Big 12 coaches. But he’s playing more like a sophomore at this late stage of the season. In the Cyclones’ victory over the Bears, Lipsey joined Kemba Walker and Paolo Banchero as the only major conference players to have at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five steals in a conference tournament game since 1996-97. When his jump shot is falling, he makes the Cyclones that much harder to beat.
F Dajuan Harris Jr.: Harris could be the star of this team next season. The third-year guard has grown into one of the nation’s best point guards. The Big 12 coaches have noticed his defense, making him the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Against West Virginia he touched nearly every area of the box score, scoring 13 points, dishing out eight assists, grabbing four rebounds and stealing five passes. No one would deny how important Jalen Wilson is to this team. But Harris is a close second right now.
The Cyclones started Big 12 play hot, just like a year ago. The Cyclones won four straight before losing to Kansas. From there, the Cyclones seemed to lose some of their mojo. By early February, the Cyclones were at the start of a funk, as they lost six of their last eight games. The wins were quality. The Cyclones beat TCU and Baylor, both ranked teams. But, they also lost to Kansas State and Texas, but also lost to both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. By the end, the Cyclones had a better league record this season than last.
In their first game of the Big 12 Tournament, the Cyclones extended their bench, owned the glass and got 24 points from Kalscheur to eventually pully away from Baylor, giving the Cyclones three straight wins this season over Baylor.
That three-game losing streak in January is nothing but a distant memory now. That streak of losses to Kansas State, TCU and Baylor called into question the Jayhawks’ ability to win the Big 12. Well, after a win over Kentucky in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, the Jayhawks won eight of its last 10 Big 12 games to claim the Big 12 regular-season title and the No. 1 seed. To some, the Jayhawks are the potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, thanks to its 15 Quad 1 wins, the most of any team in the country.
Kansas is without head coach Bill Self, who was taken to a hospital before the quarterfinal game with an undisclosed illness. During Thursday’s win over WVU, a Kansas City television station reported that Self would not return to the bench this week. In that case, Norm Stewart would remain the interim head coach. Kevin McCullar’s status is worth monitoring. He didn’t start on Thursday after it was disclosed on Wednesday that he was suffering from back spasms. But, he did play vs. WVU.
Kansas 73, Iowa State 71. I picked Kansas to win the Tournament. Self not on the bench is certainly a wrinkle, but it’s not enough for me to jump off the bandwagon. But that ISU defense is going to push KU all the way to the edge.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.