Kansas State Wildcats vs. Iowa State Cyclones Pick & Prediction MARCH 9th 2024

A share of the Big 12 championship could be on the line for No. 6 Iowa State when the Cyclones take on Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

At 24-6 overall and 13-4 in Big 12 play, Iowa State is a game behind the top-ranked and first-place Houston Cougars in the conference standings with a game left. A loss by Houston on Saturday against No. 14 Kansas, coupled with an Iowa State win, would earn the Cyclones a split championship, which would be their first regular-season conference title since 2001.

But first things first: Iowa State needs to beat a wounded Kansas State team that nevertheless has won 14 of 17 home games this season and will be celebrating its senior day.

“It’s pretty awesome to be going into the last game of the season and be … in position to give yourself a chance,” Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger said. “Man, we all do this for a long time, it doesn’t happen much, and then to do it in the best league in the country, (it’s) a really awesome opportunity in front of us on Saturday. “How we prepare, how we go into that game, our mindset and mentality is really important, and I know our guys will be ready for the challenge.” The Cyclones kept their championship hopes alive with a 68-63 win against No. 20 BYU Wednesday night in an outcome that cemented a perfect regular season at home (18-0) for Iowa State. Tamin Lipsey and Curtis Jones rescued the Cyclones in the second half, who needed to rally from a 14-point deficit. Lipsey, the team’s second-leading scorer this season (12.5 ppg), finished with 19 points, six rebounds and an eye-popping five steals. Jones, who averages 10.6 points, came off the bench to play 32 minutes, scoring 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. “We always bounce back. We never quit. We always fight,” Lipsey said. The Wildcats (17-13, 7-10) have shown plenty of fight at home this season; it’s the road that has doomed their fortunes. A 2-8 record in true road games will likely keep them out of the NCAA Tournament come Selection Sunday. Overall, they’re just 3-10 away from Bramlage Coliseum. The latest road trip was especially unkind, as Kansas State took a 90-68 drubbing Tuesday at the hands of in-state rival Kansas, a loss that likely sealed the Wildcats’ non-tourney future. Their stars’ shooting abandoned them against Kansas, as leading scorers Tylor Perry, Cam Carter and Arthur Kaluma combined to connect on just 4 of 24 shot attempts, including just 2 of 14 from 3-point range. The trio scored 15 points as a group, roughly the average each normally scores on his own. “If I walk around here like I’m the man, I’ve got to be the man,” Perry said. Wildcats coach Jerome Tang was disappointed with the team’s performance, something he hopes to see corrected on Saturday. “Our effort didn’t match what our fans deserve,” Tang said. “The effort wasn’t there. … Nobody pays for average, and they definitely don’t pay for below average, so this is not who we are and what we’re about.”

–Field Level Media

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