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Staff Picks: Cincinnati, Texas Tech

Keshon+shoots+over+TCU+defender+at+the+ISU+vs.+TCU+game+at+Hilton+Coliseum+February+10%2C+2024
Sam Petri
Keshon shoots over TCU defender at the ISU vs. TCU game at Hilton Coliseum February 10, 2024

Christian Royston, sports editor

No. 10 Iowa State 77, Cincinnati 76

Talk to me a week ago, and I might have different opinions on this game. Now, I am fairly confident in Iowa State’s ability to match up with Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is a team that is better than its record says. The Bearcats are a gritty team that has proven that they can fight hard against any team in the Big 12. In recent weeks, Cincinnati played No. 3 Houston to the final buzzer, took down a ranked Texas Tech team and even kept up with a top-10 Kansas team on the road.

It is not easy to beat Cincinnati, and that is even more true on its home court. Houston barely snuck out with a win, UCF got destroyed, Oklahoma won a nail-biter and TCU could not even get the job done during its hot stretch. The Bearcats can upset any team in the Big 12 on any night, which is concerning for the Cyclones.

Despite all that, what we have seen from the Cyclones in recent weeks is a determination and drive to win those close gritty games. The Cyclones even proved their ability to win aggressive games on the road after playing Baylor to the buzzer and taking down Texas for the first time since 2015.

Given how physical Iowa State’s defense is playing at this point in the season, I believe Iowa State will go into Cincinnati and grind out another close win.

No. 10 Iowa State 82, Texas Tech 71

I am not going to lie, it would be pretty dumb at this point to bet against Iowa State at Hilton.

What we have seen so far this season is complete dominance from the Cyclones at home. Better teams than Texas Tech have tried to do the impossible and failed.

Although Texas Tech was a strong contender early in the Big 12 season, the Red Raiders have fallen off in recent weeks and plummeted out of the rankings. We may know more about where Texas Tech sits after its home matchup with Kansas, but right now, it looks like a beatable team.

Texas Tech did make quick work of UCF, but that was a home matchup against one of the lower teams in the conference. Against better teams, Texas Tech has been hot and cold.

Yes, the Red Raiders did beat Oklahoma on the road and took down BYU, a team that dominated Iowa State. But more recently, they dropped games to TCU and Baylor on the road and Cincinnati at home. They are not looking like the team that started Big 12 play 5-1, they are looking like the team that went to Houston and got blown out by over 20.

Given where Texas Tech is currently standing, I have confidence in Iowa State’s ability to get the job done and defend Hilton yet again.

Logan Shanks, assistant sports editor

No. 10 Iowa State 65, Cincinnati 62

Despite the differences in each team’s spot in the Big 12 standings, I think Iowa State and Cincinnati match up well in what should be a close game.

The Bearcats have been in almost every game in Big 12 play, with a margin of victory of 0.7 with their biggest loss coming on the road to Kansas by five. Despite their 4-6 conference record, they have shown in every game that they can hang with every team.

Something I’m going to keep my eye out for in this game is the 3-point shooting. Iowa State has allowed multiple teams to have some of its best performances behind the arc, but Cincinnati sits with the lowest 3-point shooting team in the conference (29%).

Although Iowa State enters the contest 2-3 on the road, the Bearcats have not defended their home court well this season as they sit at 2-3 at home. I think the Cyclones will extend their win streak, but Cincinnati keeps it close throughout as it normally does.

No. 10 Iowa State 74, Texas Tech 67

Even with the Red Raiders having one of the best offenses in the conference, they’re coming to Hilton where only one team has scored over 70 points in league play. I’m convinced Iowa State can’t lose at home, and that even with the 11 a.m. tip-off, the crowd will not disappoint.

After starting 5-1 in Big 12 play, Texas Tech has fallen off, going 1-3 in its last four games. It has let up an average of 74.5 points per game in the last four games, and an average of 82 points in its two road games.

If this game had been played earlier in conference play, I would have been a bit more skeptical. But the Cyclones have proven what kind of team they are when at home, where they have averaged 70.2 points per game.

To put it simply, Texas Tech is catching a hot team in Iowa State, in an environment that seems like the result is becoming inevitable.

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