Which Iowa State Cyclones should Illinois be concerned about in Sweet 16?

Washington State v Iowa State
Washington State v Iowa State / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Fighting Illini is through to the Sweet Sixteen and they are set to face the No. 2 seeded Iowa State Cyclones. Illinois has dominated its way through the NCAA Tournament thus far.

With an 85-69 win over Morehead State and an 89-63 win over Duquesne, opponents haven’t stood a chance against the Fighting Illini.

Iowa State dominated in the First Round, defeating the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 82-65 in the Cyclones’ NCAA Tournament opening game.

In the Second Round, Iowa State struggled more than they have for most of the season. More narrowly defeating the Washington State Cougars 67-56, the Cyclones stamped their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.

So, which Cyclones should the team focus on as Illinois prepares for its third-round matchup against Iowa State?

Keshon Gilbert. 461. . G. . Guard. Junior. Keshon Gilbert. player. Keshon Gilbert

Not only is Keshon Gilbert one of the more veteran players in the Cyclones’ starting lineup, but he also leads the team in scoring this season.

Averaging 13.7 points per game, Gilbert is an offensive powerhouse and hard to slow down once he has found his shot. While 13.7 PPG isn’t a jaw-dropping stat, it has led the Cyclones to wins over top teams like Houston, Baylor, and Kansas.

Gilbert also averages 4.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. His defensive prowess has helped to minimize the opportunities that Cyclone opponents have to score.

If the Fighting Illini can keep the ball out of Gilbert’s hands and protect it from his defensive play, they should be able to put up enough points to edge out the Cyclones.

Guard. G. 461. player. Sophomore. Tamin Lipsey. Tamin Lipsey. Tamin Lipsey. .

As a sophomore guard, Tamin Lipsey clearly knows ball. His vision on the court leads to countless opportunities for his teammates and he leads Iowa State with 4.9 assists per game.

Lipsey joins Gilbert’s defensive dominance with 2.7 steals per game of his own. The two starting guards combining for 4.6 steals a game greatly cuts down on the amount that opponents can score themselves.

Lipsey averages 12.5 points per game which also isn’t astronomically high but four starters for the Cyclones average double digits from the field. Like Gilbert, Lipsey’s scoring and defensive prowess combined make him a problem player for opponents.

. Milan Momcilovic. Milan. F. player. . Forward. Milan Momcilovic. Freshman. 461

At 6-foot-8, Milan Momcilovic is a huge forward for the Cyclones. He averages 11.2 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field. The big man can also shoot shockingly well from beyond the arc, averaging 36.1 percent this season.

With his height alone, Momcilovic is a problem for many teams that lack height. While that isn’t an issue for the Fighting Illini, his ability to connect from range sure will be.

If Coleman Hawkins can play better on the field defensively, Illinois may be able to shut down Momcilovic’s offensive game and massively reduce the points that Iowa State has been averaging.