By Jeff Kubiszyn @JeffKubiszyn on March 25, 2014
The Iowa State Cyclones are making the school's first trip to the Sweet 16 since the 2000 season. The Cyclones have a tough matchup with the Connecticut Huskies, and both teams rely on strong guard play. For Iowa State to advance, the Cyclones need these five players to lead the way.
Iowa State needs someone to fill the void after Georges Niang went down with an injury in the second round of the tournament. Daniel Edozie is filling the role of Niang, minus the scoring. Edozie is a space-eater at 6-foot-8, 245 pounds. He gave the Cyclones 16 solid minutes against North Carolina. Edozie will need to stay out of foul trouble, because there is not much depth behind him.
Dustin Hogue helped overcome the loss with Niang by chipping in with 14 points and seven rebounds against North Carolina. Iowa State will need a similar performance from Hogue if it wants to beat Connecticut. Hogue may have to step out and guard along the perimeter when Connecticut plays three guards.
Connecticut will probably start three guards, with two more coming off the bench. Guard play is the strength of the Huskies team. This magnifies the importance Monte Morris plays for the Cyclones. Morris may not score much, but he excels on the defensive end. His steal to turnover ratio is nearly 2:1. Morris may be tasked with defending Huskies star Shabazz Napier.
Melvin Ejim could very well be the X-factor for Iowa State. The 6-foot-6 220 pounder should be able to out-muscle the Connecticut big men, who are taller, but lack the bulk Ejim has. He should have his way underneath the basket. If Connecticut can't stop Ejim, it could be a long day for the Huskies.
Just like Connecticut relies on Napier to carry the team at times, DeAndre Kane is the heart and soul for Iowa State. The guard put on a herculean effort against North Carolina with 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes. Some players thrive under the pressure of being the man. Kane is one of those players, and he will help the Cyclone advance to the Elite Eight.
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