Busting Brackets

Iowa State vs Baylor: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Kansas v Iowa State
Kansas v Iowa State / David Purdy/GettyImages

A weekend matchup between Iowa State and Baylor looms large in the Big 12; can the Cyclones pull off a stunner on the road or can the Bears get on track on their home floor again?

TV schedule: Saturday, February 3, 8:00 pm ET. ESPN2

Arena: Foster Pavilion in Waco, Texas

There have been many reasons for excitement at Iowa State (16-4) in recent years and this looks to be another great season. The Cyclones didn’t have the most impressive nonconference slate but have done insane work in Big 12 play. Iowa State already handed Houston their first loss, won on the road against TCU, and recently took care of Kansas.

There are many faces to consider on this Cyclones squad, with dynamic playmakers all around. The backcourt is helmed by potent scorers in Keshon Gilbert (13.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Tamin Lipsey (13.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.7 apg), a sophomore that’s become a real stat stuffer this season. Senior forward Tre King (9.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) led the team with 21 points against the Jayhawks last weekend while fellow frontcourt mate Milan Momcilovic (13.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg) is a highly-touted freshman who’s lived up to his billing.

Iowa State sits at #12 in the AP Top 25, with a recent rise thanks to their current winning streak. The metrics have been in the Cyclones’ favor this season and they’re currently 13th in KenPom. They took advantage of an easy beginning of the season and are no joke here in January and now February, playing efficient offense in recent weeks.

On the other side we have Baylor (15-5), a strong team looking to hold serve on their home court and get this season back on track. The Bears started 14-2 with a few really nice wins but recently dropped three straight conference games, including a heart break in triple overtime against TCU in their most recent home game. Will things go better for Scott Drew and company this time around?

Among the most notable pieces on this Baylor roster are the new faces, led by freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter (14.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg), a 5-star recruit who leads the Bears in scoring. Rayj Dennis (13.2 ppg, 6.7 apg) was another stellar offseason addition, transferring in from Toledo after winning MAC Player of the Year. They’ve rebuilt the backcourt, along with Langston Love (12.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), while senior forward Jalen Bridges (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) remains a steady contributor in his second year in Waco.

The Bears are #18 in the AP Top 25 and have gotten back to 16th in KenPom’s ratings. They’re holding serve among the ranked teams despite that recent skid, though they bounced back with a nice road win at UCF just a few days ago. The Bears boast one of the most efficient offenses in the nation but that defense has let them down at times, especially in these three losses, all by four points or less.

Can Baylor avoid further heartbreak? Can Iowa State avoid letdown after that big win against Kansas? You could easily lean towards the Bears as the favorite due to having the home court, especially with the magic that the Cyclones have experienced at home this season, but there’s no certainty. TCU won at Baylor and lost at home to Iowa State, but let’s just focus on this matchup.

10 teams in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. 10 teams in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. dark. Next

It all depends on how the Bears handle this stiff Cyclones defense. Those individual matchups will determine a lot, and Baylor needs that new look backcourt to play a clean game. We’re not expecting anything of a let up for Lipsey and the rest of this Cyclones squad after last weekend’s success, but we’re giving the slight edge to the home team, though the Iowa State defense is certainly the wild card here.

Prediction: Baylor 70, Iowa State 67