What could be one of the most anticipated games in the series tips off tonight in Ames as 17th rated Iowa State hosts 23rd ranked Iowa in men’s basketball. Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg says it’s a great thing for the rivalry. “I think it’s exciting for both fan bases to have a game like this where you have two teams ranked in the top 20. You have two teams who are playing very good basketball right ow. They are one overtime loss away from maybe being in the top ten — if they would have won that Atlantis tournament that had some great teams in it,” Hoiberg says.

Hoiberg will be looking to run his team’s unbeaten streak to eight straight games. “It’s going to be a very tough game, we know that. It’s a fun game to be a part of, I loved playing in this series and it’s fun to be coaching in it as well.  I know how special it is for the fans,” according to Hoiberg. He was asked about his favorite memory as a player. He says he will always remember the first game when he sprained his ankle and didn’t practice in the week leading up to the game and then went on to have a key dunk in the game. Hoiberg says going on the road to beat Iowa in his senior year and finishing with a winning record against them “as awesome.”

Hoiberg says Iowa has a deep bench and good leadership from players like Roy Devyn Marble — who Hoiberg thinks is someone who can play in the N-B-A.

“I think he is…he can handle it, he’s playing point at six-seven, he’s go great length and he’s shooting the ball extremely well and playing with a ton of confidence,” Hoiberg says. “When you have that true positional size and you put up numbers like he is putting up, that certainly gets attention.”

When it comes to the game, Hoiberg says Iowa will try to control the tempo. He says Iowa runs a press to try and slow you down and mixes up their defenses.  “That’s the thing we need to recognize,” Hoiberg says. “what defense they are in and then attack it and exploit it.”

Hawkeye coach, Fran McCaffery has been involved in a lot of rivalries through the years. “Pretty much everywhere you are has a rivalry game,” McCaffery says. “Often times it’s another conference opponent, so it’s kinda of like a rivalry plus — we’ve got to go through you to get there and you’ve got to go through us to get — this is a rivalry game, but we don’t have to go through Iowa State to win the championship, and they don’t have to go through us to win the championship, so it’s a little bit different that way.”

While the games is a rivalry, McCaffery says the players respect what Iowa State has done, and it’s the same for the coaches. “Fred and I have gotten to know each other real well since I got here. I have tremendous respect for him and how he has built it and consider him a friend. We will try to beat each other on Friday night,” McCaffery says. The two teams have some similarities in their offense. McCaffery says the Cyclones run more sets and they really share the ball well and he says it’s impressive that they are so unselfish with so many good shooters on the team.

Hilton Coliseum will be sold out, but McCaffery says it will be the same as playing on the road at the top venues in the Big Ten. “I think there are all about the same, they are phenomenal environments with very intense fans. You are playing a great team on their floor with their fans, it will be a tough environment,” McCaffery says.  “If the place is sold out and it’s electric — once you get to that point they’re all the same. That’s what the Breslin Center is, that’s what it’s like at Wisconsin, that’s what it’s like at Hilton.”

McCaffery says having both teams ranked adds to the importance of the game. “I think when you are a player you want to play a meaningful game. You want to play in a game that means a lot to a lot of people. This game means a lot to a lot of people — it’s an important game,” McCaffery says. “It’s why you work so hard, it’s an opportunity you cherish and you’ll remember. You want to play your best, you want to prepare your best, that’s what you want to try to do.”

McCaffery says the Cyclones will pose a big challenge as they have a lot of weapons and can score and they also take care of the ball and don’t turn it over. McCaffery says the Cyclones seem to be playing well together with a lot of confidence. The game starts at 8:30.