The Big XII Tournament heads to its quarterfinals on Thursday, and the first game of the day is going to be one to watch for sure. The Iowa State Cyclones and the Oklahoma Sooners are going to duke it out in a crucial bubble battle.
Iowa State has probably done enough to get into the dance, but it is going to want to get this one last victory to make sure that there is no doubt whatsoever. Head Coach Fred Hoiberg has done a remarkable job getting this team to fly up and down the court this year, and there have been a number of great wins to show for their work (and two very close losses to the Kansas Jayhawks as
well). Just take one glance at the top six scorers on this team. G Will Clyburn is averaging 15.2 points per game. G Tyrus McGee is good for 13.5 points per game. F Georges Niang, F Melvin Ejim, G Korie Lucious, and G Chris Babb are all averaging between 9.3 and 11.8 points per game, too. Lucious is really the man to watch out for, as he is the quiet assassin of this roster. He’s not the best shooter in the world, but he is a great distributor of the basketball, and he has all sorts of experience in big time games like this one from his days with the Michigan State Spartans.
All the Sooners really had to do down the stretch was ensure that they didn’t suffer any big time losses to terrible teams. Instead of just taking care of business, they went out and lost to the TCU Horned Frogs in the regular season finale. Yikes. Now, a 20-10 team isn’t nearly a guarantee to be dancing at this point, though of these two teams, the Sooners are in the better shape of the two in all likelihood. Again, a win isn’t necessarily an absolute must, but it sure would feel nicer to get one more RPI Top 100 win to add to the resume. Oklahoma has a big, physical team, and it really might be able to wear down the smaller, quicker Cyclones. The Sooners are led by F Romero Osby, who is the team’s top scorer and rebounder at 15.7 points and 6.9 boards per game. Add in there the veteran leadership of G Steven Pledger and the raw athleticism of F Amath M’Baye, and you’ve got a great team that deserves to be dancing.
The Sooners are laying a point in this one, and we just don’t think that it is justified. The Cyclones have gone 12-4-1 ATS in the last 17games in this series, and both games this year were clearly played at the pace that they prefer. If that remains the case in this one, we just don’t know if OU is really going to be able to keep up on a neutral court. ISU will essentially punch its ticket to the dance on Thursday afternoon. Iowa State 78 – Oklahoma 73
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.