With Iowa State and Iowa both in the AP Top 25 poll at the same time in who knows how long, it got me thinking of the special year this could be for the state during another Midwest winter. Hopefully both will be ranked when they meet on Dec. 13th so the nation takes notice. Win or lose, both teams and fan bases will smiling alot during the conference season.
I said it at the end of the season last year and I am still saying it, Iowa will have a very good season, and I think they will be battling for 2nd or 3rd in the talented Big 10. While Iowa may not be the most athletic team (they are getting better in this area), they are deep, experienced, smart, and play within themselves; add a lot of chemistry to that, and you have a winning formula. Aaron White is the most underrated player in all of college basketball, and he is going to have a 2nd team all Big 10 type season. Roy Devyn Marble is going to continue to produce all season as he has throughout his career, and I hope he plays his way into a draft pick. The Hawks picked up a key freshman in Peter Jok to go along with now sophmores Jarrod Utoff, Mike Gessel, and Adam Woodbury. There are 4 more that play significant minutes as well…like I said deep. Even teams like #1 Michigan St. aren’t going to look forward to playing Iowa; especially in Carver.
Iowa State is nowhere near as deep as Iowa, but make up for it with athletes and shooters. They exploit mis-matches so well and with the NBA scheme and spacing they have, it makes it really tough on opposing defenses. This is finally Melvin Ejim’s team, and he is ready to shoulder the load. His offensive game has blossomed; add that to his rebounding and effort plays that Cyclone fans are used to and look out. He has 1st team all Big 12 written all over him. He does have some help with transfer DeAndre Kane who reminds me of a bigger Curtis Stinson (not a bad Cyclone to be compared to). Georges Niang is ready for his sophmore campaign as can be seen by his late game heroics in the Michigan and BYU games. The surprise this year is the play of Naz Long, who has been really good from behind the arch. The Cyclones have another high energy transfer in Dustin Hogue and also picked up some talented freshman this year with Matt Thomas and Monte Morris. They will compete for 3rd in the Big 12 behind Kansas and Oklahoma St. Hilton Magic will be alive as ever this year with a fanbase that purchased the most season tickets in school history.
I could sit around and write more about the two teams, but why? Both are going to be NCAA Tournament teams with seeds no higher than 6. Let’s just sit back, have fun, and watch it all unfold.