Thursday, March 16th
8:57 PM estimated tip time
(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Nevada
TV: TruTV – Mediacom Channel 43, DirecTV 246
TV Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Mike Gminski, Debbie Antonelli, Lisa Byington
After another run through the Big 12 Tournament, Iowa State drew a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the Midwest Region. The Cyclones will open on Thursday evening against Nevada, the champions of the Mountain West.
Nevada brought home the regular season championship in the Mountain West with a 14-4 record in league play. Outside of a rough stretch at then end of January into early February where the Wolf Pack went 3-3, this team has been very good throughout the season. After that stretch, Nevada has won 9 games in a row by an average of 15 points per game. They took home the automatic win in the Mountain West Tournament by beating Colorado State and former ISU coach Larry Eustachy 79-71.
Nevada is coached by former NBA coach Eric Musselman. The Wolf Pack like to get out and score as they average 80 points per game. They are 34th in the country in offensive efficiency at KenPom, while ranking 101st in defensive efficiency. They play at the 87th fastest tempo in the country. Iowa State comes into the tournament with an offensive efficiency of 13th while being 43rd in D. The Cyclones are 170th in tempo.
Nevada isn’t an overly deep team, with 5 players averaging more than 30 minutes per game. They don’t have a regular rotation player bigger than 6’8, so they are built very similarly to Iowa State. They are lead by Marcus Marshall, who averages 19.8 points per game. Marshall began his career at Missouri State and is a St. Paul, MN native. The 6’3 guard can get to the free throw line at a high rate, including going 21-26 from the charity stripe in the semifinal and championship round victories in the MWC Tournament.
Inside, 6’8 Cameron Oliver and 6’7 Jordan Caroline are the two players to keep an eye on. Oliver averages 15.8 PPG along with 8.7 RPG, while Caroline puts up 14.8 PPG & 9.2 RPG. As a team, Nevada has made the 21st most 3s in the country, while Iowa State is 10th in the country in that category.
In many ways, this looks a lot like last year’s 1st round opponent, Iona. Nevada plays a similar style than Iowa State, ISU just plays it a bit better statistically. Keeping Marshall off the free throw line, keeping Oliver and Caroline off the boards and slowing the tempo looks to be some of the biggest factors for Iowa State avoiding the dreaded 12/5 upset.
With the expansion of the NCAA Tournament field to 64 in 1985, their have been 46 upsets of 12 seeds over 5s, a 36% win percentage. Just last year 2 12 seeds moved on with Arkansas Little Rock beating Purdue and Yale knocking off Baylor.