The Big 12 regular season was full of surprises, and the Big 12 Tournament has been no different. The fifth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones will take on the third-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 Championship Game that should be an instant classic. These two teams split the two games in the regular season.
Kansas dealt with a ton of injuries and off-court issues during the regular season, but still finished with a 12-6 record in conference play. The Jayhawks are 25-8 overall and will be a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa State stumbled down the stretch in Big 12 play, finishing with a 9-9 record in conference games. Kansas is -1.0 over Iowa State on Saturday night.
Cyclones Need to Make Shots
If Iowa State is making three-point shots, they are almost impossible to beat. The Cyclones shoot close to 37 percent from deep as a team, and they will take a ton of them in this game. Guards Marial Shayok and Tyrese Haliburton are the two most lethal shooters for Iowa State, but almost everyone on the floor can shoot it. The Cyclones are averaging close to 78 points per game this season, and they will want to speed up the tempo on Saturday night.
Shayok, a Virginia transfer, leads the Cyclones with 18.6 points per game this season and carried the team down the stretch in the semifinal win. Iowa State has three other players averaging double-figures this season, and freshman Talen Horton-Tucker has shown the ability to take over games in this tournament. Horton-Tucker poured in 21 points in the quarterfinal win, and he has proven that he won’t shy away from a big shot. The Cyclones are a tough team to stop when they get rolling.
Lawson Carrying Kansas
Bill Self knew he was getting a star when Dedric Lawson enrolled at Kansas, but he didn’t know how good he could be. Lawson has carried this Kansas team all season long, especially after all of the injuries to his teammates. The talented forward is averaging 19.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season and will need to have another monster performance if his team is going to win. You can expect that Iowa State will spend a lot of time and attention trying to limit the touches that Lawson gets in the paint.
The Jayhawks are averaging just over 75 points per game this season, and this isn’t one of the more dominant Kansas teams. Bill Self has had to turn to a lot of freshmen this season and has gotten inconsistent performances from them. Guard Devon Dotson has looked like a future star at times this season, averaging 11.9 points and making close to 38 percent of his three-point attempts. The Jayhawks are going to have to make some shots to open up space for Lawson.
Jayhawks Outlast Iowa State
Iowa State will want to try to speed this game up in hopes of wearing down the Jayhawks. The Cyclones will take quick shots, and will turn up the pressure on defense in an effort to increase the tempo. Kansas has looked vulnerable at times this season, but they know how to win games like this. Bill Self is one of the best coaches in the country, and he will have his team ready to win. Bet the Kansas Jayhawks -1.0 over Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship Game.