Basketball

WILLIAMS BLOG: How motivated are the Cyclones?

UNI head coach Ben Jacobson is 5-2 all-time vs. Iowa State. In one of those losses (two years ago), UNI actually led the Cyclones by 18 before Iowa State completed the fourth largest comeback in school history, a 91-82 victory that was led by Georges Niang and his 22 points.   

Yes. I fear UNI (6-3).

These Ben Jacobson teams are always talented, well coached and motivated. If you didn’t know this by now, UNI hates Iowa State (ranked 5th in the AP Top 25 and 9-0). Like, hates, hates Iowa State.

Earlier in the week, I picked the Panthers to win this game (6 p.m. on ESPNU) and give Iowa State its first loss of the season but the more I’ve studied it, the less confident I feel about that statement (and that is admittedly a good thing).

Iowa State usually has a “match up advantage” on paper when these two programs get together and as we’ve seen in the past that usually doesn’t matter. Kirk Haaland’s piece this morning really got me thinking.

On paper, this really is a good matchup for Iowa State – much better than Iowa was last week. 

I see one major key to this game and that is Monte Morris keeping Wes Washpun out of the paint. If he can’t do that, Northern Iowa’s shooters will be loose on the perimeter, which could result in a negative outcome for the Cyclones. 

I also think Iowa State has something else working for it this weekend and this one might surprise you and that’s the Naz Mitrou-Long story… 

I’m hearing that the guys are fired up about how this week has played out. There is a little bit of a chip on the shoulder of a guy like Georges Niang, who is tired of hearing about expectations being lowered for his senior season now that Naz is out. (Niang by the way has averaged 14.7 points in this three career games at Wells Fargo Arena.)

And really, that has always been the problem with this group of Cyclones. They screw around with the opposition and seem to have have a flair for late game comebacks. That bites you against good teams though. UNI is a good team. 

Sometimes when teams are really good (and obviously Iowa State is), you have to create reasons to get motivated.

I think this is one of those cases.

I just have a hunch that after a dramatic week, Iowa State will show up and be ready to go on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena. 

I hope that I am right.