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Good Cop/Bad Cop: No. 17 Baylor

Addy+Brown+shoots+a+runner+in+the+paint+against+Baylor+at+Hilton+Coliseum+on+Jan.+13%2C+2024.
Tyler Coe
Addy Brown shoots a runner in the paint against Baylor at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 13, 2024.

Good Cop: Logan Shanks

I think there are a lot of factors favoring the Cyclones in this matchup, which will give them the edge over the Bears.

For starters, Iowa State will be coming off a week of rest, while Baylor was in a bit of a scare against Texas Tech on Friday. While the Bears ended on a good note, they showed signs of weakness through the first three quarters, and I think Iowa State has the talent to repeat those lulls.

Looking back at the last matchup between these teams, Iowa State showcased its ability to put a rough start behind them. While they had the homecourt advantage, the Cyclones outscored Baylor in the last three quarters and allowed just nine points in the final 10 minutes.

To come out on top, the Cyclones will also need big games from Audi Crooks and Hannah Belanger, who combined for 28 points against Baylor earlier this season. Crooks’ dominant presence in the paint, complemented by Belanger’s ability to knock down shots from outside, left the Bears scrambling defensively, which I see happening again.

It is going to be a close one, and the veteran presence from the Bears will definitely show, but Iowa State will ultimately come out on top due to its versatile offense and additional rest.

Iowa State 68, No. 17 Baylor 63

Bad Cop: Christian Royston

I really don’t see Iowa State pulling out the win here. I want to believe in the magic the young team has shown throughout the season, but given Baylor’s experience and current winning streak, it will be a tough obstacle to face.

The Bears are on a six-game winning streak, with a tournament win already under their belt against Texas Tech. With how momentum-based matchups tend to be, Baylor has the momentum in its favor.

I know Iowa State is coming off a four-game winning streak as well, but Baylor is no easy team to overcome. The first time around, the Cyclones relied heavily on the efforts of Crooks and Belanger, which will probably be the case this time around, but they also relied on the Hilton atmosphere, which will not be present.

Hilton South is a real thing, as I have personally seen it, but given the separation of the women’s tournament and men’s tournament this year, I could see it being less of a factor as fans adjust to the new world of the Big 12 Tournament.

Given all the obstacles in the way and Baylor’s elite defense, I think Iowa State’s youth will show through in its first matchup and the Cyclones will be an early exit.

Score Prediction: No. 17 Baylor 76, Iowa State 65

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