#19 Iowa State Cyclones vs #12 Kansas State Wildcats (2/18 @ 2:00 PM EST)
Spread: KSU -2.5
Money Line: ISU +137 / KSU -147
Overview and Betting Info
The #19 Iowa State Cylcones (17-8) will take on the #12 Kansas State Wildcats (19-7) on Saturday in critical Big 12 matchup. Iowa State won their previous matchup in January by a score of 80-76. ISU is one game behind the Big 12 leaders, while Kansas State is two games back.
ISU is 14-11 against the spread this season but have covered just two of their last eight games. They’ve gone over the total nine times but have been under in three of their last five.
KSU is 17-9 versus the spread but have covered just one of their last five games. They’ve gone over the total 14 times but have been under in three of their last five.
Iowa State Cyclones
After starting the season 13-2, the Cyclones have lost six of their last ten games. While they have some terrible losses to the Big 12’s worst teams, they did get wins against Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, and TCU. Those wins signal that ISU kicks it into a higher gear when playing ranked opponents. Those big wins came at home, so we’ll see if that carries over on the road. The Cyclones’ offense has struggled, ranking eighth in the Big 12 in scoring (70.1 PPG), sixth in field goal percentage (45.9%), fifth in three-point percentage (34.8%), and sixth in assists (14.8 APG). Their defense has been great, ranking fourteenth in the country in opponent scoring (61.6 PPG) and steals (9.3 SPG). A significant concern is rebounding, as they are ninth in the Big 12 with just 33.4 per game.
ISU is led by a trio of guards in Jaren Holmes (13.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG), Gabe Kalscheur (12.4 PPG, 1.6 SPG), and Caleb Grill (10.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG). Holmes is their leading scorer and a solid three-point shooter making 37.4% of his attempts. He is also an incredible defender that combines with the other two guards to form an elite defense. Holmes crushed the Wildcats last month with a stat line of 23 points and seven assists while making 72.7% of his shots. Kalscheur was one of the Cyclones’ best scorers over the last two months, but he’s been averaging 7.25 points over his previous four games. It’s been ugly, as he has made just 21% of his shots during that span. Kalscheur was a big reason for their win against KSU, scoring 19 points. Grill is a sharpshooter making 37.7% of his threes, but he is still dealing with a back injury that limited him to just 12 minutes in their last game. With ISU already short on scorers, Grill’s health could be the difference on Saturday.
The Cyclones’ guards are supported by a pair of big men in Osun Osunniyi (8.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG) and Aljaz Kunc (8.8 RPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG). Osunniyi can provide some scoring in the post and is third in the Big 12 field goal percentage (58%), but he is also a force on defense with 1.2 blocks per game (5th in Big 12). He had one of his best games against KSU this season, scoring 16 points, blocking 2 shots, and grabbing a steal. Kunc has been incredible of late, thanks to his three-point shot appearing more in his game. He had 22 points against TCU this week, making five of his eight three-point attempts. Always keep an eye on Tamin Lipsey (7.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.9 SPG), as he is top five in the conference in assists and steals. The guard had three steals against KSU and now has ten over his last five games.
Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats started the season by winning 15 of their first 16 games, but they’ve now lost five of their last seven. It’s a troubling trend but can be partly attributed to the Wildcats’ struggles on the road (5 of their previous 6 losses). The Kansas State offense is fifth in the Big 12 in scoring, eighth in field goal percentage (45.1%), sixth in three-point percentage (34.2%), and second in assists (16.8 APG). Their defense is eighth in opponent scoring (68.6 PPG), sixth in field goal percentage (42.2%), and first in three-point percentage (29.4%). The Wildcats have had issues turning the ball over, ranking last in the conference with 14.3 per game.
Kansas State is led by a duo of senior stars in Keyontae Johnson (17.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG) and Markquis Nowell (16.8 PPG, 7.6 APG, 2.3 SPG). Johnson is their most dangerous scorer, making 51.4% of his shots this season and ranking second in the Big 12 in scoring. Johnson is third in the conference in rebounding, making him one of the best all-around big men. Nowell is a prolific three-point shooter and the Wildcats’ floor general, leading the Big 12 in assists and steals. His ability to steal the ball and then find the open man on a fast break makes him the most dangerous point guard in the conference. He was fantastic against the Cyclones last month, with 23 points, nine assists, and three steals. Nowell will play a vital role against a guard-heavy ISU team.
The Wildcats top duo have been supported by the play of Nae’Qwan Tomlin (10.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG) and Desi Sills (8.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG). Tomlin was quiet against the Cyclones last month, but he is coming off a game where he had 17 points and 10 rebounds. His shot can be streaky, but the forward can put up big numbers when he gets hot. Sills has played a significant role in this offense, especially recently. The guard has scored in double digits in three of his last four games, adding four steals during that span. Keep an eye on Cam Carter (6.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG), as the guard scored 15 points by making all five of his shots against the Cyclones. Carter has not scored in their last two games, but a rematch with the Cyclones could break that streak.
Free Pick: Kansas State -2.5
As much as they’ve struggled of late, we like the Wildcats for two major reasons. The first is their play at home versus Iowa State’s performance on the road. While KSU lost five of their last seven, four losses came on the road. If you look at their home record, a heartbreaking 3-point loss to #6 Texas is their lone blemish. Their recent home wins include blowouts of #22 TCU and Florida and an overtime win against #5 Kansas. On the other side, ISU has lost its last five road games. That includes losses to bad West Virginia and Texas Tech teams.
The second reason is how these teams match up. Iowa State relies on guard play to generate the majority of its offense. While they are deep, they don’t have anyone close to Markquis Nowell. The KSU guard will cause havoc on defense and can outplay ISU on offense. The Wildcats also have a huge advantage down low with Keyontae Jonhson, who will be a matchup nightmare for a small Cyclones team
Given that KSU almost ended the Cyclones’ perfect home record last month, we see them as a heavy favorite for Saturday.
We’re giving up the points to roll with Kansas State.