No. 1 Baylor and No. 19 Iowa State tip off tonight at 9 p.m. EST on FS1 in Oklahoma City in a battle for the Big 12 tournament title. The Bears (30-1) and Cyclones (25-7) entered the tournament as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, and are now one win away from clinching an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Baylor is looking at the top overall seed while Iowa State could solidify its spot as a top-four seed.
Baylor’s projected starting lineup
G — Didi Richards (So.): 6-1; 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists per game
G — Chloe Jackson (RS-Sr.): 5-8; 11.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists per game
G — Juicy Landrum (Jr.): 5-8; 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists per game
F — Lauren Cox (Jr.): 6-4; 12.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game
C — Kalani Brown (Sr.): 6-7; 15.7 points, 8 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game
Iowa State’s projected starting lineup
Limitless possibilities. 🌪🏀 pic.twitter.com/FNmn7WziqE— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneWBB) March 11, 2019
G — Alexa Middleton (RS-Sr.): 5-9; 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5 assists per game
G — Bridget Carleton (Sr.): 6-1; 21.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game
G — Ashley Joens (Fr.): 6-0; 11.8 points, 5 rebounds, 0.6 assists per game
F — Madison Wise (So.): 6-1; 8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists per game
C — Kristin Scott (So.): 6-3; 13.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists per game
When Baylor has the ball
Expect to have to worry about every player on the floor. Brown may be a 2019 Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy Semifinalist but she doesn’t dominate the Bears’ shot totals. She isn’t even the player with the most shots this season on her team. Jackson is. Five different players have at least 201 shots this season and another three have more than 100. And as a team Baylor shoots better than 50 percent from the field.
The Bears own one of the most prolific offenses in the nation with an average of 80.9 points per game. They only have one true threat to take 3s in Landrum, but those shots aren’t the focus of the team’s offense. Baylor hits the glass hard and moves the ball to get the best shot. It’s why the Bears own a plus-17.1 rebounding margin, average 14.5 offensive rebounds per game and have four players with at least 111 assists.
The 66.9 percent mark from the free-throw line needs work, though, especially for a team that averages 20 attempts from that line each game. Baylor hasn’t played many close games this season but come NCAA tournament time too many missed free throws against the wrong team could end the Bears’ season.
When Iowa State has the ball
Expect Carleton to shoulder the bulk of the load. Iowa State’s leading scorer has attempted 502 shots this season while no other teammate has more than 292. The Cyclones have four players who’ve attempted between 253 and 292, and as a team they average nearly 64 shots each game, but that’s still close to seven more shots per game for Carleton than her closest teammate. It works for Iowa State, though. Carleton shoots 46.2 percent from the field and averages 21.7 points per game. Iowa State shoots 44.7 percent from the field and averages 79.8 points per game.
The Cyclones managed just 60 points in a 13-point loss against Baylor in late February, but that was because they shot 31.7 percent from the field (19-for-60) and 18.5 percent on 3s (5-for-27). Iowa State is not one of the better 3-point shooting teams. It hits just 33.7 percent of them and attempts close to 27 each game. But when the Cyclones are making them they can score as many as 105 points in a game like they did against Texas Tech in January.
It’s just a matter of whether or not they hit their shots against a Baylor defense that has held opponents to a 31-percent mark from the field this season and allows just 54.7 points per game.
And then there were two...— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) March 10, 2019
No. 1 faces No. 2 for it all. Who've you got: 🐻 or🌪️? pic.twitter.com/XHJRvqOhcA