enCYCLONEpedia: Pre-madness basketball blabberings

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If you’re a loyal and faithful reader of all things at Cyclone Fanatic, you’ve probably dabbled into the realm of stats contained within the “enCYCLONEpedia” tab above. There’s some historical stuff for Iowa State football and basketball in there but also this year’s Big 12 advanced stats section for the basketball season.

One of the key things I try and keep consistently up to date is the Four Factors analysis for each team that shows how each team is performing on offense and defense but also the margin for those categories. I then color code it so the best and worst teams in a given area are more obvious. With the conference tournament nearly upon us I figured now would be a good time for a brief overview of this table and every team that will be in Kansas City this week.

(All stats from conference games only.)


It’s no surprise that Iowa State is the most up-tempo team in the league but it is interesting (and probably random) that the four teams that push the pace the most are at the top of the standings (depending on how you look at the tie at 11-7 between Baylor and West Virginia). That is sweet, sweet vindication against all of the evil of “slow-it-down” basketball.

For as much as we talk about Iowa State’s defense not quite being up to snuff, the offense is so good that it has still created a tie for the second best margin in scoring efficiency at 0.08 points per possession.

It is a similar story with effective field goal percentage where Iowa State is demolishing the rest of the league by nearly four percent. The Cyclones tend to give up decent shooting rates to the tune of the 8th worst shooting defense in the league but the strong offense still produces the second best margin in the Big 12. Once again behind the leader, the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Cyclones have fewer turnovers than anyone in the league but very rarely force them. Meanwhile, West Virginia turns opponents over on more than 25 percent of possessions (!) and easily has the best margin in the conference. Oklahoma also does pretty well in this regard by finishing in the top three spots of turnover percentage for both offense and defense.

Baylor has rebounded an amazing 40.9 percent of their misses shots on offense and West Virginia isn’t far behind at 39.4 percent. Those teams are also decent defensive rebounding teams and that nets in very favorable rebounding percentage margins up over seven percent. Iowa State has the best defensive rebounding percentage by a whisker over Texas.

Nobody gets to the free throw line as often as TCU, even if they shoot a pretty awful percentage at 61.5 percent 346th in the country. Only West Virginia and Kansas approach that number in league play. Of course, the Mountaineers give up an astronomical free throw rate on defense because of their style of play that pretty much cancels out any of those gains. The Cyclones don’t get to the line much on offense but a major component of their defense has been keeping opponents off the free throw line better than anyone else, by a wide margin.

Poll position

By now, I think most in Cyclone Country understand that this stretch of basketball from Iowa State is into the unprecedented territory. The Cyclones are staring down the barrel of their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, which has never been done before in Ames, but it isn’t just that. Iowa State has become a familiar name in the polls.

The Cyclones have now been ranked for 63 consecutive games and that number will continue to grow into their post-season play. That bests the previous school record by nearly 20 games.

But, what is even more astounding is that those 64 games (including the quarterfinal game in Kansas City) in the top 25 for the past two seasons account for 25.3 percent of all games played by Iowa State as a top 25 team in the history of the program. Further, in the past two seasons the Cyclones will have played 40 games in the AP top 15 after their quarterfinal game in Kansas City on Thursday. Those 40 games in the past two seasons account for 29.9 percent of all games in Cyclone history played as a top 15 team.

For the sake of comparison, after Thursday, the Cyclones will have played 1,858 games in the era of the AP poll and just 3.6 percent of those games have been played in the last two seasons. Yet, the last two years have contained over 25 percent of games played in the top 25 and nearly 30 percent in the top 15.

So, this is fun stuff what is going on right now.

Swiss Army Knife offense

It is pretty well known that Iowa State has an elite offense and multiple guys that can do damage but every once in a while it is worth doing the legwork to prove all of that out.

To do so, I looked at the 18 conference games for each team and tallied up the number of times a player on each team scored at least 15 points (simple and slightly blasphemous to the advanced analytics movement, but whatever, sometimes easy is the only way to go).

First off, there have been 32 occasions where a Cyclone scored at least 15 points. The next most is Baylor at 28 and Oklahoma State at 27.

Second, eight different guys have reached that scoring mark for Iowa State in a game. That again is the most in the conference with Texas being the runner up with seven different guys and a bunch of other teams with six.

And finally, Iowa State has had five different guys score at least 15 points on three separate occasions in league play which is again the most in the Big 12 (Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Jameel McKay, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Naz Long). Baylor, Kansas, and Texas each had four guys reach that mark to follow up Iowa State’s lead.


Kirk Haaland


Kirk has been a contributor at Cyclone Fanatic since the fall of 2009 and is a lifelong Cyclone fan. He eventually started his own website,, where he cultivated an interest in statistical analysis and historical Iowa State football and basketball data. In 2014, Kirk came to Fanatic and housed his works here. In 2015 he launched a new website,, as the co-founder. There you can find in depth analysis of all things involving advanced statistical analysis in college football for every FBS program. Kirk graduated from Iowa State University in 2006 with a degree in Industrial Technology and has worked as a Manufacturing/Quality Engineer ever since. He's married to his wife, Kelley, and has three daughters, Hannah, Hayley, and Kinley (plus his Golden Retriever, Clyde).

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