Virginia takes the court on Friday night looking to reach the Elite Eight and get a chance at the Final Four. Here's what you need to know:
Who: No. 1 Virginia (26-7) vs. No. 4 Iowa State (21-11)
When: 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS
Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.
1. How they got here
After finishing second in the ACC Tournament, Virginia was still given a No. 1 seed and have been proving the committee right ever since. The Cavaliers breezed through Hampton in the first round and then outlasted a tough test from Butler in the second.
Iowa State is in the tournament for the fifth consecutive season and won its first two tournament games by an average of 15 points. Iona hung around in the first round before the Cyclones were able to pull away. In the second round, Iowa State benefitted from a first round upset and met Arkansas-Little Rock instead of Purdue. The Cyclones took advantage with a 17-point win to reach the Sweet 16.
2. Who is Iowa State?
The Cyclones are in their first season under head coach Steve Prohm after former coach Fred Hoiberg left to become coach of the Chicago Bulls. Iowa State began the season as a top 10 team, but finished sixth in the Big 12 with a 10-8 conference record. They did, however, manage wins over both Kansas and Oklahoma over the course of the season.
Iowa State boasts an incredibly experienced roster as all seven of the team's top scorers are juniors or seniors. That makes this the third or fourth tournament appearance for most of the roster.
3. Opposites attracting
You would be hard pressed to find two teams with more contrasting styles as Virginia and Iowa State. The Cavaliers boast one of the top offenses in the country while the Cyclones have a top, up-tempo offense.
Here are some numbers from Ken Pomeroy's ratings: Virginia ranks fourth in defensive efficiency while Iowa State is the third-most efficient offense. The Cyclones average 82.1 points and 71.7 possessions per game, more than 10 more than UVa. The Cavaliers have plenty of talent on offense, but elect to use a slower pace in deference to their defensive mindset which may ultimately work to their advantage.
Iowa State has struggled this season against stout defenses. In nine games against top 20 defenses this season, the Cyclones managed only a 3-6 record.
4. Georges Niang is the key
A win over Iowa State will depend greatly on Virginia's ability to stop playmaker Georges Niang. Niang leads the team in scoring with 20.2 points per game. He presents matchup problems for every defense as a 6-foot-8 player who can post up in the paint and shoot from the outside. He is the only player in the nation with 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists.
5. Looking ahead
Iowa State is the biggest obstacle standing between Virginia and the Final Four. Awaiting the winner of this game will be the winner of No. 10 Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga. Obviously any team that can make it to the Sweet 16 is no slouch, but if given the choice between a double-digit seed and Michigan State in the Elite Eight, that's not a difficult choice for many UVa fans.