The Iowa Hawkeyes try to snap a two-game losing streak when they take on in-state rival Iowa State Cyclones in a non-conference contest on Thursday night. The opening tip for this game is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET at James H. Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa (7-2) started its Big Ten campaign with two straight losses, falling to the Purdue Boilermakers and the Illinois Fighting Illini, with the latter setback coming on Monday. The Hawkeyes had their first road game prior to the two losses, defeating the Virginia Cavaliers on Nov. 29.
The Cyclones (8-0) are off to their best start since opening 9-0 in the 2015-16 season. Iowa State is coming off its first true road victory since February 2019, defeating the host Creighton Bluejays on Saturday.
The college basketball lines favor the visiting team in this one, with Iowa being a 5½-point favorite, while the over/under is set at 151½. If you want to bet online on the moneyline, you can get the Hawkeyes at -225, while the Cyclones are listed at +185.
The Hawkeyes had been unbeaten before opening play in the Big Ten, and the two losses — to the current No. 1 team in the country in the Boilermakers as well as a highly thought-of team in the Illini — haven’t dimmed the team’s optimistic view of the season. Falling by just seven on the road to Purdue certainly gives Iowa confidence it can do good things.
Helping with that view is also the presence of sophomore forward Keegan Murray. He leads Iowa with 23.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, though he was unavailable against Purdue due to an ankle injury. Murray came back in the loss to Illinois, finishing with 19 points, but he grabbed a season-low two rebounds.
Forward Patrick McCaffery stepped up with a team-high 15 points in the loss to Purdue and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.0 points per game. Kris Murray is averaging 11.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while also shooting 52 percent from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes are averaging 90.1 points despite having only the three double-digit scorers due to a very balanced attack.
Iowa is very adept at forcing turnovers, with opponents averaging 16.1 per game. On the other end of the floor, the Hawkeyes have been very good at hanging onto the ball, committing fewer than eight turnovers per contest.
Under new coach T.J. Otzelberger, the Cyclones have come together as a team in a hurry, picking each other up when a teammate isn’t playing well. An example of that was in the win at Creighton, as leading scorer Izaiah Brockington missed his first nine shots from the field, but teammate Caleb Grill came through with a season-high 16 points.
“Cold-blooded,” Brockington said of Grill’s shooting in the win. “Every single one of his shots was big-time because the offense was slow, and he was really a bright spot for us. That shot he had going into half (to beat the halftime buzzer) really gave us confidence, and we had all the energy in the world coming out in the second half.”
Brockington responded with all 12 of his points in the second half as the Cyclones got a win they wouldn’t have in years past. Brockington, a senior guard who transferred in the offseason from Penn State, is averaging 16.0 points and 7.5 rebounds to lead the new-look Iowa State squad.
Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur has been a nice addition to the team, averaging a career-high 12.2 points in his first season in Ames. He has plenty of experience against the Hawkeyes, having played in the Big Ten for the last three seasons, while Brockington was in the conference the last two seasons.
Freshman guard Tyrese Hunter has adjusted to the collegiate level quickly, averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 5.4 assists. He’ll have to be good against ball pressure and not allow the Hawkeyes’ defense to turn him over too much.
Cyclones Earn Win
Iowa State is playing with a lot of confidence right now, especially after the road win over Creighton. The Murray brothers won’t make it easy, but we like the Cyclones to stay undefeated with a big home win in this one.
When doing your college basketball betting, take Iowa State to get the win at home.