Iowa State went against type in handing Notre Dame its largest NCAA Tournament loss since … 1958.
The Cyclones had not been successful closing out games or winning away from Hilton Coliseum. They weren't known for forcing turnovers with pressure defense or winning when they weren't raining 3-pointers (they made "just" nine of 21 threes).
They did all that in dominating the Fighting Irish 76-58 to win a second-round NCAA Tournament game in the West Region Friday night. Now they get to prove it all again. No. 10 seed will take on No. 2 seed Ohio State – which figures to have a home crowd in Dayton, Ohio – in the round of 32 Sunday.
"It's going to be a very difficult task, especially with one day to prepare for a team that runs a lot of great actions," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "You just have to try to put in the best game plan possible to give yourself a chance in the end. We have to take care of the glass. "If we can get some rebounds, hopefully, that will create some transition opportunities for our team.
"We're going to have to approach this game tomorrow like it's a road game, very similar to how we played Kentucky a year ago in Louisville, and we just got to come out with great effort."
The Cyclones lead the nation in 3-point shooting but they befuddled Notre Dame by getting the ball inside to post players Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang. With the Irish defenders spread to the 3-point line, Ejim and Niang had room to operate one-on-one.
"They're very, very hard to guard," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "They're really good. … They're just really good, and they're men. They're really men."
Ohio State, which reached the Final Four last year and lost to Kansas in the semifinals, relie on point guard Aaron Craft to set the defensive tone. He had seven steals against Iona.
"I think Aaron Craft is as dominant a defensive player at the guard spot maybe that I've ever seen," Hoiberg said. "He just poses so many problems as far as creating turnovers which lead to run-outs which lead to baskets. We've got to take great care of the basketball.
"I think the biggest thing for our guards in this game are making simple, easy plays. You can't go out there and try to get by him making a bunch of different dribble type moves. He's too good. He'll just flat out take the ball from you."
Ohio State is representing the Big Ten Conference, which most experts considered as the nation's best this season. The Buckeyes have won their last nine games, including a 95-70 romp over No. 15 Iona Friday.
"I think as a team we're all doing our roles now," Ohio State's Shannon Scott said. "We're not trying to do one on one basketball now. We're all playing together, and that's really helped us out a lot."
Iowa State will be trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000. That year, the Cyclones made it the regional final only to lose to a Big Ten team (Michigan State).