Cyclones face Michigan State in first round of NCAA Tournament

The Cyclones walk toward center court following a timeout Feb. 24 in Iowa State’s 85-68 win over then-No. 18 West Virginia at Hilton Coliseum.

Nick Flores

The Iowa State women’s basketball team is participating in the NCAA Tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the Big 12 Championship, with an opening round matchup against the Michigan State Spartans.

This marks the first time the Cyclones have faced the Spartans since 2009 and they will be hoping to come away with another win this time around. 

Seeing as the Cyclones haven’t faced them this season, this poses a new challenge for Head Coach Bill Fennelly and his team. Fennelly mentioned some of the things the Spartans do well the Cyclones will have to make note of.

“They’re very good off the bounce, they’ll attack the basket, which reminds me of Texas a little bit in that regard,” Fennelly said. “They offensive rebound the ball really well so the two things we’ve struggled with the most when we haven’t played well are containing the bounce and defensive rebounding, and those might be the two things Michigan State does best.”

Michigan State will be a new challenge the Cyclones will have to adjust to given that they can play in many ways. They can play a big or small lineup with a 10-player rotation so Fennelly talked about some of the things his team needs to be prepared for.

“I think for us it’s going to have to be that we’re willing to change our defensive philosophy within the game,” Fennelly said. “How do you guard a ball screen, do you change defenses a little bit based on their lineups and ours.”

In addition to the many ways the Spartans can play, junior guard Nia Clouden for Michigan State earned high praise from Fennelly as he knows how impactful she can be on the floor.

“First of all she’s a dynamic scorer,” Fennelly said. “She’s great off the bounce, she’s creative, fearless and is a hard guard who isn’t afraid to take tough shots and those are the kind of guards who do well in this tournament.”

With the Cyclones coming up against a fearless scorer, their defense is going to have to be ready to defend against a guard who can get to the basket at will as well as open up the floor for the rest of her team.

While Fennelly has mentioned the adjustments his team will have to make, he also believes that in order to win, the Cyclones need to have the mindset that Michigan State needs to adjust to them.

“You’ve got to play your game, sometimes you get into this tournament and you’re playing someone you overthink it,” Fennelly said. “You think ‘we have to adjust to everything they do,’ well maybe they have to adjust to everything we do.”