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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The contenders in the Big 12 this year have a tendency to ebb and flow. They play great for a few games…then they misfire and you wonder what all the hype was about. Then, they start winning again, and you have to figure out if everyone from Kansas on down is a serious NCAA Championship threat…or a pretender playing in an overrated conference.

The Iowa State Cyclones and Texas Longhorns are both on relative upswings of late…looking once again like they belong in the top 20 and on the short list of potential Elite Eight darkhorses. Iowa State just scored a tough road win at Oklahoma State (where Kansas couldn’t win) on the heels of a blowout of West Virginia (who then beat Kansas two nights later). Texas is 3-1 straight up and ATS over its last four games, and just missed upsetting Oklahoma in Norman a few days ago after leading almost the whole night.

That sets up a potentially GREAT game early Saturday when the two teams meet at 2 p.m. ET in a showdown you can watch on ESPN. Iowa State won Round One by three points, but led by a lot more than that for most of the evening (a Big Monday showcase). Texas wants revenge…and knows this is a test they HAVE to pass after laying eggs at home already vs. the likes of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State (as well as Stanford in non-league play).

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats say about this potential Big 12 thriller…

 

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Iowa State: 118.2 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)

Texas: 110.7 per 100 possessions (#37 in the nation)

The Texas offense is worse than that ranking would make it look in terms of pure shooting. They get a lot of offensive rebounds which helps their per-possession efficiency. This is going to be a problem in March against good rebounding teams. Texas will just turn into a team that can’t make shots! They will have a chance to attack the soft underbelly of the Cyclones here. Iowa State is an up-tempo team that scores a lot of cheapies. That’s also an approach that can underachieve in March against true quality. Both of these teams will be vulnerable to a Dance upset while being capable of scaring anybody at the top for 40 minutes.

 

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Iowa State 98.2 per 100 possessions (#101 in the nation)

Texas: 92.6 per 100 possessions (#24 in the nation)

Texas has a legitimate defense, with athletes who can scamper and intimidate. Iowa State can force mistakes from the sloppiest opponents…but are way too soft inside. It’s going to be very tough for this team to string together wins in the Dance because defenses outside of the top 100 just don’t do that! Big edge to Texas here.

 

Pace Ranking

Iowa State: #14

Texas: #263

Iowa State is one of the fastest teams in the nation. Texas grades out slower than average…but some of that is an illusion created by their offensive possessions. Getting second and third opportunities isn’t the same thing as slowly working for a good shot. Texas will probably try to take Iowa State out of its comfort zone by slowing things down. If they can patiently execute, this is their game to win. If not, that will play into Iowa State’s hands.

 

Against the Spread

Iowa State: 12-10

Texas: 14-10

It’s amazing that the Longhorns are four games over the .500 mark ATS when those home lemons jump to mind so easily. They do have a knack for bullying bad teams. Can they bully a soft visitor that’s going to try to beat them with pace and three-point shooting? This one could really blow up in either direction. Great game to watch!

It’s too early to say whether or not Iowa State/Texas will show up on the Saturday ticket for JIM HURLEY. There are so many games to choose from. We hope you’ll build your bankrolls for a huge basketball weekend with some Friday night NBA. Then come back Saturday morning for the official college extravaganza. Game day BEST BETS are always available for credit card purchase right here at the website. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 Friday afternoon or Saturday morning before the first tip off.

Back with you tomorrow for the much anticipated Pac 12 showdown between UCLA and Arizona. ESPN has been hyping that game all week! (So far their best examples of Rivalry Week have been North Carolina/Duke in basketball, and India/Pakistan in cricket). Our hoops travelogue continues through the week with this schedule…

Saturday: College Basketball GameDay…UCLA at Arizona in the Pac 12

Sunday: College Basketball…Evansville at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley

Monday: College Basketball…Louisville at Georgia Tech in the ACC

Tuesday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Maryland in the Big 10

Wednesday: College Basketball…Baylor at Iowa State in the Big 12

Thursday: NBA Special…Golden State at Cleveland on TNT

Friday: Early Look…Syracuse at Duke or Texas at Kansas

It’s a great time to be a basketball fan. NBA intensity always kicks up a notch after the All-Star Break. And, the ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS has very high speed limits at the moment. Buckle up and get on board with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

 

Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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