Date: Sunday November 17th
Time: 5:00 ET
Location: Hilton Coliseum--Ames, Iowa
Iowa State Cyclones
2013 Record: 23-12 (11-7 Big 12)
Naz Long (6'4'' 205) is a sophomore guard leading the team in points per game at 15.5 per. The remarkable thing is he's done this on just 16 combined attempts from the field in ISU's two games against UNC-Wilmington and Texas A&M-CC. Long is 11-of-16 from the field to date and a tremendous 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, giving him a ludicrous eFG% of 97% in this young season. With Will Clyburn, Korey Lucious, Chris Babb and Melvin Ejim (injury) not playing for the Cyclones anymore, Long has taken a big leap from his freshman year (albeit, again, against weak competition, like most teams at this point in the season). As a freshman, long logged just 6.9 minutes per game and 1.4 ppg. Long is at or near the top of the Big 12 player rankings in just about every relevant shooting category.
Georges Niang (6'7'' 240), meanwhile, had a much busier freshman season, averaging 25.1 mpg and 12.1 ppg. Again, early season caveats apply, but Niang is No. 1 in the Big 12 in possession percentage right now. Naturally, expect a lot of the offense to go through him when Long is firing from downtown. This season, Niang is averaging 14.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg while also shooting a respectable 75% from the free throw line (for a forward).
DeAndre Kane (6'4'' 200), unlike the last two Cyclones, is a senior and a transfer from Marshall. Like Long, he's also a big guard, but seemingly isn't the 3-point threat that Long is, with only three attempts to his name thus far. He's almost averaging a double-double this season (14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg). Kane leads Fred Hoiberg's squad in assists (5.5 apg). For what it's worth, this Jon Rothstein article dubs his Marshall playing days with the descriptor "volume scorer."
Dustin Hogue (6'6'' 215) is a junior forward averaging 11.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Like Kane, he is also a transfer, but of the JUCO variety after spending two seasons at Indian Hills C.C. in Ottumwa, Iowa. He's 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, so it's somewhat unclear if he's a legitimate threat from there as opposed to a guy who has gotten a few open looks against bad teams.
Matt Thomas (6'3'' 200) is a freshman guard from Onalaska, Wis., averaging 11.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg while shooting 38.5% from three.
Monte Morris (6'2'' 170), a freshman guard from Flint, is the first guy off the bench for the Cyclones. Morris is averaging 10.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg.
What To Watch For
-Offensive rebounding. Just like the past couple of seasons, Iowa State looks like a team that can shoot it from outside and attack you with a number of talented guards. However, size seems to be a weakness for ISU. Niang is the tallest guy in the starting lineup, and off the bench the Cyclones have 6'8'' Daniel Edozie and 6'9'' (listed as a center) 255-pound Percy Gibson, a product of Southeastern in Detroit. As is often the case on the road, when the rims get tight and easy looks are hard to find, the Wolverines will need Jon Horford et al to go over the top for some easy buckets.
-Raising the level of play. This is a general point, but after playing teams like concordia, Wayne State, Lowell and South Carolina State, the Cyclones represent a big step up in level of competition for Michigan. How will Derrick Walton respond in his first collegiate road game? How will Zak Irvin respond if his first couple of good looks don't fall, like in the SCSU game? For that matter, can Glenn Robinson III truly be counted upon to create, or is Caris LeVert really Michigan's best player until Mitch McGary returns from injury? Michigan fans won't get all the answers in this game, but they'll start to get a decent idea.
-Defending the 3-point line. Long et al will shoot the three, as Hoiberg's teams have been wont to do. The beauty of the trey is that two or three in a short period of time can really blow a game open. If the Wolverines are going to avoid this sort of Cyclone run, transition defense will have to be tight. Of course, the Wolverines like to shoot the three as well; there will be long rebounds, and, as such, Michigan will have to be ready to book it back to the other end of the floor.
-WE GOTTA KEEP OUR COMPOSURE. Michigan would do well to heed Will Ferrell's advice. This is basically a restatement of the second point, but Michigan's dicey trip to Bradley last season should be enough to keep the non-freshman Wolverines from taking this game too lightly. The Cyclones will hit some shots, Michigan will miss some, and it wouldn't be incredibly surprising if the Wolverines go into the half with a deficit. That's not to say that they'll lose, but it's a possibility. Shiny early season rankings are nice, but ultimately meaningless; Iowa State will provide a tough test for a Michigan squad still missing its (I think) best player.
The great thing about November college basketball is that, no matter what preconceived notions and polls may say about certain teams, nobody really knows anything right now. The Wolverines are clearly very good, but are they good enough to pull off a road win against what should be another ISU tournament team? I think so, but I'm not sure.
Although the Cyclones have seemingly replaced their departing production well, they too haven't faced anyone of note to date. Unless Michigan shoots like it did in the first half against Lowell, the Wolverines should be able to snag a Bradley-esque victory on the road, one that should age well as we near March.
But, for now, all we have is predominantly uneducated guesswork.
Score: Michigan 73, Iowa State 67.