2014 Iowa State Cyclones Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/3/2014
Winning with transfers can be really difficult because there is so much turnover that it can be difficult to build chemistry. Fred Hoiberg doesn't seem to have many problems with this formula, though. For four years, Hoiberg has consistently done what many coaches have so much trouble doing. The Cyclones won 28 games a year ago, and they lost a close game in the Sweet 16 against the eventual champions from UConn.
Iowa State starts the season as the No. 14 team in the nation, according to both the AP And USA Today polls. That is the highest preseason rank for an Iowa State basketball team since the 1996-1997 team was ranked No. 9. This year's team will once again feature some high-level transfers as well as some impressive recruits. Can Hoiberg make the mixture of players work? It's hard to bet against it at this point because he has proven himself so many times. It's one of the reasons Hoiberg has become one of the hottest coaching commodities in the nation. Here's a closer look at the Cyclones for this year.
2014 Iowa State Key Losses and Additions
Iowa State will have to go without Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane this year. Ejim scored a Big 12-record 48 points in a game against TCU last year, and his four-year career at Iowa State was spectacular. Ejim averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 boards per game last year. Kane played only one year for Iowa State, but he's one of the main reasons the team made it to the Sweet 16 last year. Kane's playmaking ability from the perimeter will be missed.
It starts with the transfers again as far as newcomers. Bryce Dejean-Jones transferred in from UNLV, and he'll be in the starting lineup right from the beginning. He is among the most athletic players in the country. He can definitely make some amazing plays from the shooting guard spot. If he starts knocking down the long-range shot more consistently he'll be virtually unstoppable. Abdel Nader played on a terrible Northern Illinois team, but he is a guy who can create his own shot, and his upside is tremendous. He's a really nice pickup for the Cyclones. Marquette transfer Jameel McKay won't be eligible until after the fall semester, but he'll be a nice body on the inside for Iowa State. Look for him to grab a ton of boards this year. Freshman recruit Clayton Custer was one of the best point guards in the country last year. Hoiberg is convinced Custer will be an elite guard.
2014 Iowa State Backcourt
Monte Morris played in every game last year as a freshman. How good was he? He set an NCAA record with a ridiculous 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio. In Big 12 play, that number rose to an even more ridiculous 6.9. His 134 assists were third best in school history. All of this was in his freshman season! Needless to say, Iowa State is in good hands at the point guard spot. Naz Long will start beside Morris at the shooting guard spot. Long is an emotional leader for the team, and he shot 46.2 percent on 3-pointers over the last 10 games of the year last season. Dejean-Jones will be third guard on the floor for Iowa State, and he'll likely lead them in scoring this year. Sophomore Matt Thomas is a terrific outside shooter, and he'll be an asset off the bench. Look for Custer to get some minutes at the backup point guard spot too. Iowa State is loaded with talent and depth in the backcourt.
2014 Iowa State Frontcourt
Georges Niang is the most important player on this roster. How tough would Iowa State have been to beat if Niang hadn't gotten down with an injury before the NCAA Tournament? The Cyclones likely would have made a much deeper run. Niang is a do-it-all type player who can stretch the defense with his jump shooting but also score in the post when needed. Hoiberg says that Niang is a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder all the time, and that helps him be the best. Look for a huge season from Niang. Dustin Hogue will start alongside Niang in the frontcourt. Hogue was a big surprise last year for Hoiberg. He didn't get much time early, but he did the dirty work needed to win, and he started seeing more time as the year went along. Daniel Edozie will get some time because of his rebounding ability. McKay should be a beast on the glass once he is eligible to play.
2014 Iowa State Cyclones Futures Odds
The books aren't going to be fooled by Iowa State this year. They know this is a team with lots of potential. Iowa State is listed at +3,300 to win it all this year, according to BetOnline. Sportsbook.ag lists the Cyclones at +3,500 to win the NCAA Championship.
2014 Iowa State Cyclones Predictions & NCAA Basketball Picks
I like the looks of this team a lot. Niang is the key to the team, and he wasn't around in the tournament last year. They still made it to the Sweet 16 without him. Dejean-Jones, McKay, and Nader will all contribute right away. If the Cyclones can commit themselves on defense, this team does have the potential to win it all. I think this team at least gets to the Elite Eight this year. It will be a great season for the Cyclones!
Doc's Sports Advisory Board has set some lofty standards worldwide for college basketball handicapping. They normally do their best work at the beginning of the season. Click here for $60 worth of free college basketball picks. No credit card needed, and you will never deal with a salesman.
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
Get all of this Weeks College Basketball Picks
Get all of this Weeks guaranteed Expert College Basketball Picks