Wells Fargo Arena will host a big night of in-state college basketball on Saturday with the second annual Big Four Classic. In the opener the 17th ranked Iowa State Cyclones will play Northern Iowa. ISU is 6-0 after a victory at home over Auburn and the Cyclones will be out to snap a three game losing streak to the Panthers.
“They are a very good team that’s gonna come out and run their stuff sharp and execute, and we know they are going to play good defense,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg says. He says UNI coach Ben Jacobson is known for having great defensive teams. He says his team will have to be patient and not fire up quick shots.
The Panthers are 3-4 following a loss at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. UNI coach Ben Jacobson says that this may be the best team that Iowa State has had since Fred Hoiberg took over in Ames, largely because of the abilities of Melvin Ejim. “A hard team to match up with, when you have an opposing center who in a lot of ways plays like a point guard — that’s a hard team to match up with,” Jacobson says.
Saturday’s game will mark the end of a string of six consecutive road games for the Panthers. Jacobson says he hasn’t seen that take much of a toll on the team.
Jacobson says the Panthers will need contributions up and down the lineup against Iowa State, not just from returning starters Seth Tuttle and Deon Mitchell.
Iowa is ranked 23rd and the Hawkeyes will play Drake in the nightcap. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says they are expecting a great crowd as all four teams are playing well and should have outstanding seasons.
Off to a 6-1 start Drake is considered a surprise under first year coach Ray Giacoletti. “If you can’t get excited about playing to a sold out crowd in an event like the Big Four Classic in Iowa, probably you are playing the wrong sport,” Giacoletti says. He says they will try to control the things they can control against Iowa.
Giacoletti says the Bulldogs need to make it a half court game as Iowa is very deep and all 10 guys can score the basketball.
Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls contributed to this story.