Iowa State and Iona shaped up to be the first round’s most up-tempo affair before the game, and the two teams did not disappoint.
The Cyclones defeated the Gaels 94-78 behind Georges Niang’s 28 points and Monte Morris’s 20 points with eight assists, including the alley-oop pass above to Abdel Nader.
But the real highlight moment in this one was Jameel McKay. McKay provided 11 points, nine rebounds, and one heck of an awesome dance move as the Cyclones were rolling in the second half to a relatively breezy win.
BREAKING: we have a early favorite for the Big Dance’s Dance of the Year. pic.twitter.com/y5E0EyunNZ
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 17, 2016
This was a relatively popular upset pick in CBS Sports brackets, as 15.9 percent of all brackets selected Iona to pull off the win and advance. Among No. 4 vs. No. 13 seed matchups, only Hawaii received a higher percentage of upset selections as nearly 19 percent of brackets are picking the Rainbow Warriors.
But in the end, this was never really a particularly good matchup for Iona. The Cyclones basically do what the Gaels do in getting up and down the floor while playing spread out offensively. They just do it better, and more efficiently due to better overall shooting efficiency and the matchup problem that Niang creates both inside and out.
Niang’s college career will continue on Saturday, as the matchup nightmare he creates will be on display again as the Cyclones move forward to take on the winner of Purdue and Little Rock. Either way, that game could be relatively fun for a couple of reasons.
If it’s Purdue, the Boilermakers will have a massive advantage inside due to their size. If it’s Little Rock, the Trojans are a team in peak physical condition that really pressures the ball and uses its athleticism. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Iowa State is not the deepest team, and it’ll be playing its second game in three days in the high altitude of Denver, which might not be ideal for their endurance.
Overall though, we’re now just one game away from Steve Prohm going as far as Fred Hoiberg ever did in the Big Dance as Iowa State’s coach in just his first season. That would be one heck of an accomplishment for the Cyclones given the up-and-down nature of their season.