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Staff Picks: No. 15 Kansas State, Cincinnati

Katarina Kotek
Emily Ryan ran the basketball during the women’s basketball vs. BYU game in Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 24, 2024.

Pavle Markovic, Sports Reporter

No. 15 Kansas State 80, Iowa State 74

As Iowa State enters its final week of regular season play, the Cyclones will travel to Manhattan, Kansas, for a rematch with No. 15 Kansas State. The last time the two teams played, they set off some big fireworks as Iowa State narrowly took down the then-No. 7 Wildcats in a double-overtime classic.

Now the matchup shifts to Kansas State’s home court, and this is where the Wildcats have thrived the most. Kansas State currently holds a 15-0 record at the Bramlage Coliseum this season, which is the best home record in the Big 12. It does not help Iowa State’s case that this is the final home game for Kansas State this season and it will be looking to get revenge in a big way against the Cyclones on Wednesday night.

This matchup will also be Kansas State’s senior night, as players like center Ayoka Lee will be recognized in front of the Kansas State crowd Wednesday night. If this does end up being the last home game that Lee plays, she will be looking to get revenge against center Audi Crooks.

The one thing that could play to the Cyclones’ advantage Wednesday night could come from the Wildcats’ recent play. Since Iowa State took down Kansas State two weeks ago, the Wildcats have gone 2-1 with an average score margin of around 4.6. Kansas State’s biggest win over the course of these past two weeks was an overtime nine-point home win against a then-No. 22 West Virginia team. Besides that, the Wildcats squeaked out a two-point win against UCF and suffered a three-point loss to their in-state rival Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

While I do have Iowa State dropping its rematch with Kansas State, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this game go into another overtime period, as both teams are hungry to finish their respective seasons off strong in what could be another box-office matchup.

Iowa State 78, Cincinnati 72

Following what should be another thriller between the Cyclones and Wildcats, Iowa State will travel back to Ames, Iowa, to host its final regular season game of the 2023-24 season.

It has been nearly a decade since these two teams have gone head-to-head against each other, and Iowa State will certainly be looking to cap off its season on the right note in front of what should be a big Hilton Coliseum crowd.

Like the Cyclones’ game against No. 15 Kansas State, Iowa State will also be having a senior night where it will honor players like guard Emily Ryan, forward Nyamer Diew and guard Hannah Belanger.

Now, looking at Cincinnati, the Bearcats have not found a lot of success in their inaugural season in the Big 12. They currently sit in 12th place in the conference with a 5-12 record. Cincinnati has largely relied on forward Jillian Hayes’ play this season, as she leads the team in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (8.6).

Even with Hayes’ play, the Bearcats have not found success offensively, as they currently sit as the worst statistical offense in the Big 12. Cincinnati averages 63.1 points per game on 35.9% field goal shooting and 28.1% 3-point shooting. The Bearcats have struggled mightily to keep up with their new conference competitors.

Then again, this is still Big 12 basketball, and every game will get unnecessarily close at times. I have Iowa State pulling out a six-point victory at home against Cincinnati to end the Cyclones’ regular season on the right foot before the Big 12 Tournament begins.

Brett Twelmeyer, Sports Reporter

No. 15 Kansas State 76, Iowa State 67

Last time these foes faced off, Iowa State won in one of the most thrilling games I have ever seen. The 96-93 double-overtime win seemed to kickstart a second act late in the season for the Cyclones.

This time around, I do not think it will play out exactly like it did two weeks ago, but it should be another great game. Kansas State will be hungry for revenge over Iowa State and will look to avenge its loss to Kansas in its previous game.

The biggest key to the game will be inside with the second battle between Crooks and Lee. Each proved they could compete with one another, but there is one thing that stuck out to me, and that was Lee’s condition two weeks ago.

Yes, Crooks and Lee went shot-for-shot the whole game, but Lee likely was not at 100%. It was her first game back from injury and her first time against Crooks, whereas Crooks watched and paid attention to Lee last year while still in high school.

Lee will likely be in better condition this time around, and now that she is familiar with Crooks’ game, Iowa State may need to find other ways to score. Addy Brown, Ryan, Belanger and everyone else will need to be on their A-game to beat Kansas State again.

Kansas State is too good of a team to lose to the same team twice. I am confident the Wildcats will win on their senior night.

Iowa State 82, Cincinnati 72

The final game of the regular season. This one will be a big day, with seniors Ryan, Diew and Belanger being recognized.

I expect them to motivate the team more than ever, considering this could be the final time they play at Hilton Coliseum.

Cincinnati is 13-14 overall and 5-11 in the Big 12 with zero wins against ranked opponents. The Bearcats also recently got blown out at home by No. 21 Baylor on Tuesday.

I am not going to overthink this one. Cincinnati is a new Big 12 team. Iowa State is at home, and it is senior night.

Those factors alone are enough to make me pick Iowa State. I think the Cyclones will head into the Big 12 Tournament with a win to close out a wild regular season.

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