STANZ: It’s all about matchups with this team

Mar 10, 2022; Kansas City, MO, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Clarence Nadolny (3) and Iowa State Cyclones guard Jaden Walker (21) fight for a loose ball in the second half at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nobody should be too surprised by what we saw Thursday night at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.

It is fair to be disappointed by Iowa State’s 72-41 loss to Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, but there was nothing overly shocking about this lopsided outcome.

Mark Adams’ team has KenPom’s No. 1 adjusted defense in the country. Iowa State has the No. 136 adjusted offense and has been wildly inconsistent putting the ball in the basket the entire season.

The best defensive team in college basketball holding a poor (to slightly above average on a good night) offense to 0.621 points per possession and forcing 20 turnovers is not a surprise.

But, it is fair, expected even, to be disappointed Iowa State allowed this game to get so out of hand with so many people excited to be back in Kansas City with dreams of another magical run to Saturday night.

“It was an unacceptable effort,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Turning the ball over, letting them go in transition. Not limiting them to one shot, which is what we needed to do. They got some second-chance opportunities that helped them. Not our proudest moment. Unacceptable effort. We’ve just got to be better.”

The past few weeks I’ve been asked numerous times who Iowa State should hope not to see in the Big 12 Tournament. My answer was always simple and immediate.

Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders are the Cyclones on steroids. Both teams want to play physically defensively and slow the game to a snail’s pace, but Texas Tech is considerably better at those things than Iowa State has ever been in year one under Otzelberger.

For Iowa State to win, it would have taken something crazy and unexpected happening, like the Cyclones getting red hot from the perimeter offensively or Tech going stone-cold for long stretches on their offensive end.

Neither of those things happened in this game. Not even close.

Iowa State shot 31 percent from the field and 5-of-25 from 3-point range.

Meanwhile, not only did Tech avoid going stone-cold offensively (as they did during their regular-season ending loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday), but they hit numerous tough shots to the tune of 50 percent from the floor and 6-of-17 from deep.

Tech is a really good team. The Red Raiders are Final Four good and I’d put them in the upper echelon of national championship contenders, especially if they are able to score the way they did on Thursday.

My money is on them to run the table down here in KC, too.

“I thought we played the best 40 minutes we have played all year,” Adams said. “Our guys were ready to play… Really have a lot of respect for Iowa State and T.J., and I told those guys we couldn’t have played better than what we did tonight.”

Burn the tape and pray for the right matchup.

The attention now turns to Selection Sunday, which Iowa State is expected to be part of for the first time in three years and one year after failing to win a single game in Big 12 play.

Fans looking forward to the bracket’s release should be worried less about Iowa State’s seeding and focus solely on the matchups presented.

Any team that resembles Texas Tech (and by proxy Iowa State) is going to be a difficult out for this group without those aforementioned crazy things happening.

“In this league, there are none better than Tech,” Otzelberger said. “The numbers say they’re the best defensive team in the country, so that makes it tougher… I don’t know who we will play and how that will all go but I do know that we’re playing in the best league in the country. We play the teams that are the most physical. We play in the league that’s the most physical, so my guess would be whoever we play outside the league, it may not be that same level of defensive intensity that we see night in and night out.”

Getting paired with teams that want to spread the floor, play fast and could be considered as more of a finesse roster would make Iowa State advancing in the big tournament more likely.

Regardless of what happens with the seed lines, postseason basketball is — and always has been — about matchups.

Iowa State happened to get a truly terrible one on Thursday in Kansas City.

Pray for a better one in the Field of 68.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.