Busting Brackets

Iowa State Cyclones Lose, Recap and Observations of The Big 4 Classic


On Saturday we saw the four main Iowa programs: Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake square off in Des Moines for the fourth consecutive year in the annual Big 4 Classic.

By virtue of insane shooting and the transitive property of basketball; UNI is the champion for this season with a tremendous upset over Iowa State Cyclones.

Here are the recaps of the two games along with some observations of each contest.

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Game 1 (Iowa 70  – Drake 64) – Iowa managed to hold off a determined Drake squad to bounce back from their insane letdown vs. Iowa State last week.

Iowa was outrebounded and outshot from the arc, but made up for it with 14 blocks in the game and a massive contribution from walk-on Nicholas Baer.

Baer played 30 minutes, scored 13 points, grabbed seven boards, and swatted 6 shots. It’s not a stretch to say that Iowa could have lost that game without Baer’s pressure all over the court.

My key observation – Iowa really needs Jared Uthoff to make the offense work. Sure, Mike Gesell did great at the point and Baer blew up from the bench, but this team can’t rely on an offensively-challenged guard and a walk-on freshman to carry.

Iowa has some very solid players, but they were visibly less fluid with the ball when Uthoff exited early thanks to foul trouble.

Beating Drake is great, but this team is in for a rough Big 10 season if Woodbury and one or two others can’t increase their contributions.

Game 2 (UNI 81 – Iowa State 79) – The Panthers have done it again. Nearly one month after dethroning North Carolina from #1, Northern Iowa knocked off their second top-5 opponent in Iowa State. They got career high scoring from both Wes Washpun and Paul Jesperson (29 pts and 21 pts, respectively), while shooting 59% from three-point range to shock the favorites.

On the other side, Georges Niang played like an All-American with 30 points, four rebounds, and four assists. The key move, however, came in the last minute when he went to one of his patented spins into the lane and slipped. The ball went to UNI, who clinched not long after. This game was truly one decided by one bounce here or there that could have sent the Cyclones back to Ames at 10-0.

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My key observation – Iowa State doesn’t play defense, but improvement is coming. It was reported earlier this week that senior guard Naz Mitrou-Long would miss  the rest of the season. His leadership and shooting ability are almost impossible to replace and his absence shortens an already short Iowa State bench.

The bright spot in this loss is Deonte Burton’s debut. In just 15 minutes of action, he scored seven points and snagged three rebounds. He was clearly not up to game speed just yet, but he played solid defense at times and showed a willingness to drive or pull the trigger.

Burton is a true tank at 6’4″, 250 and will provide a new dimension for the team as it solidifies a new rotation.

Next: Gonzaga Bulldogs: Five Takeaways from Gonzaga win over Tennessee

Iowa State was probably a little overrated going into this weekend at #5.  However, there was a big trend of top-10 teams losing to lower or unranked squads.  Ohio State beat #4 Kentucky, Utah beat #7 Duke, and #17 Butler beat #9 Purdue.  Look for a major reshuffling of the top-10 coming this week with all the action.

Keep your eyes on Busting Brackets for the rest of an already insane season of college hoops.