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Staff Picks: Iowa State vs. Houston

Tyler Coe
Keshon Gilbert pump fakes the ball at the men’s basketball Big 12 tournament semifinal game against Baylor, T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, March 15, 2024.

Christian Royston, Sports Editor
No. 1 Houston 62, No. 2 Iowa State 56

Houston is the best team in the nation. There is no getting around that.

The Cougars have the most lockdown and physical defense imaginable paired with an offensive intensity that does just enough at all the right times to keep a healthy distance in front of their opponents. Throughout the season, there was only one time that Houston looked off. Besides that week where the Cougars dropped both their games, they have been dominant.

I will admit that Iowa State is piecing things together at the right time and looks the best it has looked in months. The revenge wins over Kansas State and Baylor showed just how locked in this team is.

When it comes down to it, Houston is just on another planet. Although Hilton South will be rivaling Hilton itself, I do not see Iowa State pulling out two miracle wins against the same team.

Houston is just a team that will not lose to the same team more than once. I have Houston walking away from this defensive battle with the Big 12 title in its first year in the conference.

Logan Shanks, Assistant Sports Editor
No. 1 Houston 66, No. 2 Iowa State 61

It is tough to pick against the Cyclones considering how they played against Kansas State and Baylor, but I think Houston’s defense is too good not to side with.

While Iowa State beat the Cougars in Hilton earlier in Big 12 play, I believe Houston has come a long way since then and is a more refined team defensively. Houston will make you play your worst offensive game against it, and although it usually takes a while, its offense comes together and ends up running away with the game.

Do not get me wrong, I believe in Iowa State’s defense as well, but it is a little easier to crack than Houston’s which we have seen before. In their last matchup, the Cyclones trailed 19-8 after the opening 14 minutes of the game, which caught them fighting from behind the rest of the game.

I think just like the matchup in their recent matchup with the Cougars, the Cyclones will put up a good fight and make things interesting. Iowa State has played really well these last two games, but the inconsistent shooting will plague the team Saturday and ultimately cause it to walk away with a loss.

Jacob Rice, Co-Visual Editor
No. 2 Iowa State 63, No. 1 Houston 59

I photographed the Houston matchup at Hilton this year, and what I saw was concerning.

The Houston defense that night was a direct match to Iowa State. Houston was still new to Big 12 play and had not played against another defense heavy team. Since then, Houston has had plenty of time to acclimate and evolve its play.

After viewing the second half of Houston’s season and its recent tournament games, I do not know if I can confidently say Iowa State’s extensive defense can save it.

At the end of the day, I’m an Iowa State student, and I want to see it win. If the Cyclones do win, this could be a major boost in confidence for the NCAA Tournament.

If they do not win, I would not be surprised. Houston is just that good, and I could see the Cougars pushing toward the Final Four.

Elizabeth Lane, Photojournalist
No. 2 Iowa State 60, No. 1 Houston 57

There is no doubt that Houston has been on a winning streak and are a force to be reckoned with, but so are the Cyclones.

The matchup will be good no matter what, with both teams having top defenses in the country and splitting in the regular season. Ultimately, the game will come down to the nitty-gritty and who can make something happen on the offensive side.

At the end of the regular season, we saw some offensive struggles for the Cyclones. With their wins against Kansas State and Baylor, they rebooted their offense which is bound to carry into the championship game. On the other hand, Houston also brings in a solid offense.

The game could swing either way, but it would be a shame not to mention the fact that Iowa State fans travel so well. With so many Cyclones flocking to Kansas City, Missouri, it will give the T-Mobile Center a Hilton Coliseum feel. The arena is known to have the nickname Hilton South among Cyclone fans.

With this being said, the Cyclones feed off the fan energy, and that may just be what can make or break the game for the Cyclones.

Tyler Coe, Photojournalist
No. 1 Houston 67, No. 2 Iowa State 57

I do not think any team in the country can beat Houston right now, but if there is one team to pull it off in the Big 12, it is Iowa State.

Iowa State arguably played Houston the toughest in both of the matchups this year in the league, but if Iowa State wants a chance to win, it will have to keep up with Houston’s pace early in the game. Iowa State must avoid a slow start like it had in Houston on Feb. 19.

Houston’s defense has looked nearly unstoppable in its two Big 12 Tournament games, and Iowa State is going to have to match Houston’s physicality to have a chance. For the Cyclones to win, their offense will have to be clicking like it was in the first two games of the Big 12 Tournament.

I said this for the first two matchups between Iowa State and Houston, but the first team to 50 points wins. Although I think Houston will win by 10 points, the game will seem much closer than that, similarly to the second matchup between these squads.

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