Iowa State @ Virginia Preview

Tonight is a pretty big game for the Cyclones. For the first time in this season, our Cyclones will be playing a basketball game outside the state of Iowa.

In my opinion, Virginia is pretty equal in terms of ability to Iowa State. They have some impressive wins (@Minnesota, @VA Tech), but they have some head scratcher losses (@Stanford, Seattle). That said, I think this is a game that could go either way, and will help show us fans the mental toughness of Iowa State, as they had to make a long trip this time.

Here's what you need to know about the game:

Basic Info About The Game:

Location: @Virginia (John Paul Jones Arena)
Time: 7pm CST
TV: Comcast Mid-Atlantic
Lines: Vegas -> ISU +2.5; Ken Pomeroy -> Iowa State -3; Jeff Sagarin -> Iowa State -7

About Virginia:

They have one stud player, Mike Scott, who averages 16 points, 10 rebounds, and shoots 48% from the floor. Scott is a Senior, wears #23, is 6-8 and 242 lbs. He's an inside scorer that also is shooting 88% from the free throw line this season. I imagine he will create some headaches for Vanderbeken (who is prone to the dumb foul) and Godfrey. Iowa State is the kind of a team where Scott could go off on, and Iowa State needs to find ways to double him and slow him down.

Similar to Iowa State, they have a lot of youth on the team, aren't expected to do anything huge in conference play, and they rely on the three pointer more than the average team.

The one key area they differ, is Virginia is a great defensive rebounding team (their defensive rebound% is #1 in the nation), while Iowa State is a slightly-above-average defensive rebounding team (defensive rebound% is #99 in the nation). Another area they differ is that they play a slower tempo, average about 64 points/game and allow about 63 points/game.

Keys To The Game:

In my opinion, the three things Iowa State needs to do especially well in order to win. All of the other usual things apply as well, but these are the things that apply especially to Virgnia based on what I know.

1. Rebound well, especially on the offensive glass. Virginia is a good defensive rebounding team. In fact their opponent offensive rebound % is 28%, which is the lowest in the nation. Virginia is not an offensive rebounding team (offensive rebound % is about 29-30%), but if you can deny your opponents offensive rebounds, it is a wash. It is hard to get offensive boards, when you lack a true inside presence, but any time an offensive rebound is in the vicinity of Iowa State, they need to do whatever they can to grab it.

2. Stay out of foul trouble. Virginia is a good free throw shooting team, shooting 73% from the charity stripe. They have three starters that shoot over 80% from there. As I said before, the area I'm worried about is whoever is guarding Mike Scott. When Virginia beat Minnesota, they made 25 free throws on 30 attempts. Iowa State cannot afford to send Virginia to the foul line that many times.

3. Team basketball on offense.  Virginia's opponents have an eFG% of 51.5%, which is the 282nd lowest rate in the nation. In other words, there is no excuse to NOT shoot the ball well against Virginia. Our best shooters in order (highest eFG%) are: Ejim (63%), Christopherson (59%) and Vanderbeken (58%). DG (50%) and Jake (51%) need to find these guys when they are open. I don't want to see guys dribble the ball in place, then jack 3s with no ball movement.

Prediction:

As always, tempo is big, as Iowa State does not play as well when they are in the half court game on offense. In order to control tempo, you cannot commit too many turnovers and you have to control the board. The good news for Iowa State is because Virginia is such a bad offensive rebounding team, Iowa State should do well on the defensive glass, and have the ability to push the tempo.

At the end of the day, like almost all Iowa State games will be this year, it is going to come down to 3 point shooting. Whether I like it or not, Iowa State is a team that needs to shoot in the upper 30% range (ideally 40%) in order to beat teams that are equal or better than them.

I think this is a game in which both teams coming off 8-9 day layoffs play a sloppy first half, but get their acts together more in the second half. I've got Iowa State 74, Virginia 68, as Iowa State gets hot in the second half from beyond the arc. On the flip side, if Iowa State gets into foul trouble and does not rebound well, I could see Iowa State losing this game, and struggling to score 60.

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