Kansas (15-0) becomes the last team to open Big 12 play, heading to Hilton Coliseum in Ames tonight to play the Cyclones (13-3, 0-1).KANSAS: The Jayhawks are one of five remaining unbeatens in major college basketball. So obviously they haven’t had any no-shows yet. Tonight they go on the road to a more-difficult-than-you-would-think road environment in Ames. It’ll be a sellout I’m sure, and a Cyclone win might make Fred Hoiberg mayor for life.
One of Kansas’ strengths this year has been contribution from a variety of players, as they usually have under Bill Self. Sherron Collins isn’t around any longer, but Marcus Morris filled the role capably in helping KU pull away from Michigan in overtime this past weekend. His effort at the end was outstanding. He is the leading scorer for the Jayhawks, and his brother Markieff is the leading rebounder. Thomas Robinson and Josh Selby have also played well. Kansas leads the nation in FG percentage at over 52%. They are third nationally in assists.
IOWA STATE: ISU’s first Big 12 game was a tough loss at Nebraska, 63-62. The Huskers aren’t overwhelmingly talented, but they usually manage to be a tricky team to play. KU is of course a talented team that should not be affected by a loud road crowd. So far, Scott Christopherson has been excellent from three-point range, and he will need to find that shot right away. Strong 3-point shooting is the easiest way for a team with less talent to spring an upset.
Iowa State did not shoot well enough against Nebraska (40% FG). Their 14 turnovers were costly. Their bigger players rebounded effectively, but their guards did not. Kansas has big athletic guards that can help out rebounding, and I fear Iowa State could get mauled in this area.
How Iowa State plays this year against mid-tier teams like Nebraska and Colorado will say much more about Fred Hoiberg and his team than games against Kansas will. They could do a lot of things well and be very prepared and still get blown out, because Kansas is the most talented team in this league. When recruiting picks up in a couple years, the Cyclones can work their way up in the standings.
Tonight, KU should get its 11th straight win in the Iowa State series without too much trouble.