No. 19 Baylor (20-7, 8-6) at No. 12 Iowa State (20-6, 10-4)
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Tonight has legitimate Big 12 conference champion implications. The Big 12 is just awesome like that. If you'd like a detailed rundown of the twisting, winding path that would lead to a Baylor Big 12 championship, check out this awesome bit of work by Andrew Miner. Shout out to him for figuring all that out. It's complicated. Also check out Fankhauser's Monday Shootaround for his ever intelligent assessment of the past, present, and future. Lastly, here's the Q&A preview for tonight's game.
This game will be tough for the Baylor Bears. Iowa State is capable from deep (and Naz Long is straight deadly), they're an excellent passing team (they're 7th nationally in assists per game), and Georges Niang is a zone buster.
If you're looking for hope, look no further than Rico Gathers (because #GathersIsSoBig that you can't see around him). He and Johnathan Motley shut down Niang for 35 minutes last game, and they can certainly do it again. ISU's front line lacks size, so expect Gathers to be all over the glass, grabbing boards, drawing fouls, and mean mugging all of Ames.
Baylor's zone is disruptive enough to deflect some of the many, many passes the Cyclones make, which could lead to transition points. Taurean Prince and Royce O'Neale will have opportunities to collect offensive rebounds if ISU commits multiple bodies to Gathers, and we learned from the game in Morgantown that the Bears are, in fact, capable of making shots on the road.
Plus, it's the Big 12. Anything can happen in the Big 12.
1.) High energy defense
2.) Stick with the offense even when things look dire
3.) Get 2nd chance points
Iowa State is so, so good at home. I have to imagine they ride the Hilton Magic, three point shooting, and fantastic passing to a victory on their home floor. The Cyclones are -6.5 favorites, and I think they'll probably cover that on the back of a big 2nd half run. Baylor 69 -- Iowa State 78.
Got a prediction? Join in the comments!