WBB Opening Round: ISU vs Michigan State 5:00 p.m. ESPN

BoxsterCy

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On the ESPN flagship at 5:00.




Where: Alamodome - San Antonio, Texas
When: Monday, March 22 at 5 PM
Projected Starting Lineup: Kristin Scott, Ashley Joens, Kylie Feuerbach, Emily Ryan, Lexi Donarski
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield
Talent: Noah Wolf, Jamie Steyer
TV: ESPN
Talent: Courtney Lyle, Carolyn Peck


The Lead
Iowa State earned the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is set to take on 10th-seeded Michigan State. The Cyclones earned their 19th appearance, all 19 of which have come under the direction of head coach Bill Fennelly. Iowa State and Michigan State have faced off once before in the NCAA Tournament, with ISU coming away with a 69-68 win, engineering the biggest comeback in school history to go to the Elite Eight in 2009.

Key Storylines
  • Ashley Joens earned Sports Illustrated Second-Team All-America honors this week. The junior is eighth in the nation in scoring, averaging 23.6 points a game. She currently ranks 11th in school history in scoring (1,615 points), and is the 11th player to reach 1,500 career points in school history. She was also the first active junior to reach 1,500 this season.
  • Joens is one of two players in the nation averaging over 23+ points and 9.0+ rebounds per game, joining Big Ten Player of the Year Naz Hillmon.
  • Lexi Donarski was the unanimous Big 12 Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Cyclone since 1998 (Megan Taylor) to earn the honor. Donarski was the only freshman to average double figures, with 12.9 points per game.
  • Ashley Joens earned Unanimous All-Big 12 First-Team honors for the second-straight season, after leading the Big 12 in scoring for the second-straight year.
  • Senior Kristin Scott earned Second-Team All-Big 12 honors for the second time in her career, while Emily Ryan was the only other unanimous selection to the All-Freshman Team.
  • For the third-straight season, Iowa State has won 10 or more Big 12 games (2019-20, 10-8 and 2020-21, 13-5). ISU nabbed 12 wins in conference action for the eighth time in school history. ISU's 12 wins, ties for third in school history.
  • In total 12 of Iowa State's 26 games this season were aganst team in the NCAA Tournament Field.
 

BoxsterCy

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Some cherry picked items on Sparty's pre-game from their site.



EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 10-seeded Michigan State will take on No. 7-seeded Iowa State on Monday, March 22 at 6 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN with Courtney Lyle and Carolyn Peck on the call. The Spartans enter the NCAA Tournament with a 15-8 record, while the Cyclones are 16-10.

• This is only the second time in MSU's NCAA Tournament history that the Spartans have been a 10 seed, also doing so in 2012, when Michigan State lost to No. 7-seeded Louisville, 67-55, in College Park, Maryland.

• In three games in the Big Ten Tournament, junior guard Nia Clouden averaged 24.0 points per game, which earned her a spot on the Big Ten All-Tournament team.

• Against Indiana on March 11, Nia Clouden became the fourth Michigan State player to score 30 points in a Big Ten Tournament game and the first since Tori Jankoska's record-tying 31 points against Maryland on March 4, 2017. Two other Spartans also scored 31 in a tournament game — Liz Shimek vs. Iowa on March 3, 2006, and Aerial Powers vs. Ohio State on March 5, 2016.

• MSU is one of 26 teams to have both their men's and women's teams in the NCAA Tournament. There are five schools in the Big Ten with both squads in, including Rutgers, Michigan, Iowa and Maryland.

SPARTANS IN THE BIG DANCE
The Spartans have a 15-8 overall record, and Monday's NCAA Tournament game against Iowa State will be Michigan State's second-straight game against a team from Iowa, as the Spartans lost to the Hawkeyes of Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

MSU is in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last six completed seasons, after the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the Spartans are making their 18th trip to the "Big Dance." Michigan State has gone to the NCAA Tournament 15 of the last 18 completed seasons.

This is only the second time in MSU's NCAA Tournament history that the Spartans have been a 10 seed, also doing so in 2012, when Michigan State lost to No. 7-seeded Louisville, 67-55, in College Park, Maryland.

SPARTANS VS THE FIELD OF 64
MSU has played six teams that reached the NCAA Tournament, all of which are from the Big Ten. The Spartans are 2-7 against those teams. With a win against the No. 4-seeded Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament, MSU is 1-1 against Indiana. Michigan State is also 1-1 against No. 5-seed Iowa. The Spartans were 0-1 against No. 5-seed Northwestern, No. 6-seed Michigan and No. 6-seed Rutgers. MSU was 0-2 against No. 2-seed Maryland.

SCOUTING THE CYCLONES
The 2021 Cyclones earned an at-large bid with a 16-10 overall record after going 12-6 in the Big 12, and were the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, falling to No. 5 seed Texas, 84-82 in OT. The Cyclones are one of just 15 teams nationally to earn NCAA Tournament berths in 12 of the last 15 years. All 19 of the Cyclones' NCAA Tournament appearances have come under the direction of head coach Bill Fennelly.

ISU averaged 76.7 points per game, while yielding 70.8 ppg to the opposition. Junior guard Ashley Joens earned unanimous first-team All-Big 12 accolades for the second season in a row. Joens averages 23.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Lexi Donarski was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and she currently averages 12.9 points and 2.0 assists, and was the only freshman in the Big 12 to average double-digits this season. She is ISU's first Freshman of the Year since 1998. Kristin Scott rounds out the trio of Cyclones averaging in double-figures and the trio of Big 12 honorees, earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. Scott adds 11.8 ppg and 5.7 rpg. Emily Ryan joined Donarski on the All-Freshman team, averaging 8.0 points and dishing out 5.7 assists per game.

SERIES HISTORY VS. THE CYCLONES
While Michigan State and Iowa State have a limited series history, their last meeting was also in the NCAA Tournament, in 2009 in Berkeley, California in the Regional Semifinal of the Berkeley Region, when the ninth-seeded Spartans lost to the fourth-seeded Cyclones, 69-68.

Overall, MSU leads the all-time series, 3-2, going 3-0 in East Lansing, 0-1 in Ames and 0-1 on a neutral court, in 2009 in Berkeley, in the only other previous NCAA Tournament meeting. MSU and ISU first met in 1982 in East Lansing.

COMMON OPPONENTS
The Spartans and Cyclones had only one common opponent this season. Both teams faced Iowa with ISU losing to Iowa 82-80 on Dec. 6 in Iowa City. During Big Ten action, the Spartans defeated Iowa, 86-82, on Dec. 12. The Hawkeyes knocked the Spartans out of the B1G Tournament on March 12, 87-72.

LAST TIME VS. IOWA STATE | 3/28/09
Alison Lacey capped a furious finish for Iowa State that sent the Cyclones into the regional finals for just the second time in school history. Lacey hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 23 seconds remaining and fourth-seeded Iowa State scored the final eight points in a 69-68 victory over ninth-seeded Michigan State.

SMALL MARGIN OF ERROR
Four of Michigan State's losses have come by six points or less. In back to back games in January, MSU lost to No. 12/12 Maryland by six points (93-87) and Nebraska by four points (68-64). Overcoming large deficits in February, the Spartans fell to No. 22/20 Northwestern by three points (63-60) and No. 11/11 Michigan by four (86-82).

REACHING MORE MILESTONES
Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant is approaching even more milestones. She is nearing her 500th career win and her 300th win as head coach at MSU. In her 25-year career, Merchant holds an overall record of 497-275, making her just seven wins away from the 500 win mark. She is also 296-155 during her 14 seasons at the helm of the Spartans, standing eight wins away from the 300-win plateau.

On Feb. 16, 2016, Merchant captured her 400th career win in historic fashion. In a dramatic 114-106 win over Minnesota at the Breslin Center, All-American Aerial Powers scored a career-high 40 points, as the Gophers Rachel Banham scored 52. On Feb. 24, 2016, Merchant won her 2ooth game at Michigan State in a win over Illinois.

NEW TO THE DANCE
The Spartans are fairly new to the NCAA Tournament with only three players having any NCAA experience. Senior forward Mardrekia Cook has played in three NCAA games, while junior guard Nia Clouden has played in two and junior guard Tory Ozment has seen action in one. As a freshman, Clouden averaged 12.0 points and four assists in a pair of NCAA games in 2019. She scored 16 points in the Spartan win over Central Michigan in the first round in South Bend.

THE STARTING 5
Nia Clouden is the only Spartan to have started all 23 games this season, making her 86th career start in playing in her 86th career game. Against Iowa on March 12, MSU had a new lineup of Clouden, Alisia Smtih, Mo Joiner, Alyza Winston and Janai Crooms, that lineup is now 0-1 this year. The Spartans now have had nine different starting lineups.
 
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CyclonesFan4ever

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Looks like the availability of MSU starting PF Julia Ayrault and starting SF Tory Ozment is still a game-time decision. As I wrote in the detailed scouting report, those two would be responsible for guarding Ashley Joens. When both of them were absent in the B1G tournament sem-final game, they lost to Iowa by double digits. If they can't play, I hope we can take advantage.

Here are my "Keys to the Game":

1) Play team basketball

As our season stats suggest, when we have everybody involved and have a balanced scoring game, we have a better chance of winning. Because MSU doesn’t have a strong interior defense, Ashley could seek the mismatch and have a field day. But other players must not get caught ball watching. If we can get four or more players to score in double figures and score over 80 pts, we are likely to come out victorious.

2) Play solid perimeter and transitional defense

Containing Cloudon and Winston is the top priority. Our team could use a man-to-man switching defense scheme. MSU likes to run so we must limit their fast-break points. If we can hold MSU under 75 pts, it will increase the winning odds greatly.

3) Make Clouden less efficient and do not let everybody else go off

Nia Clouden is a really tough matchup. It's OK to let her score her share of points but we can make her take inefficient shots. When she scores more, her team tends to lose. Contain everybody else and make the game a one-player show could be a winning formula.

4) Limit turnovers

I’m sure the team has learned their lesson the last time out. Take care of the ball especially avoiding live-ball turnovers. The magic number is 12 or less.

5) Better defense rebounding

MSU is good at the offensive boards. We must defense rebound better to limit their second-chance points.

6) Execute, execute and execute

As other posters suggested, both teams have been inconsistent throughout the season. Since both teams share so many similarities in style and stats, the game might come down to who can play to their strength, execute their game plan better and make timely adjustments. Which team’s better version showing up will eventually decide the game.

Bonus Key: Heather Ezell

The last time when we beat MSU, Heather was on the team and her 3-pointer was part of the big comeback at the end of the game. This year she’s also participating in the tournament (as an associate head coach for the Wyoming WBB team). I’m confident she will bring good luck to our team and watch them close by.

Go Cyclones!
 
Last edited:

BoxsterCy

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Old man YMCA Niang like comment. Drink.

We got away with an over-and-back there by Ryan.
 

theshadow

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One familiar official in today's game. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
 

DrizzyCyclone

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No offense, but it seems like all or nothing for Emily when she’s handling/passing the ball. Either looks great or looks lost.
 
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BoxsterCy

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Really good offensive 1st quarter against an opponent that's also playing pretty good hoops (other than some missed bunnies by Sparty).

So far our kinda game, All-Star game like defense and lots of open looks.
 
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