In the past, I've found it very instructive to look at breakdowns of some of the more detailed stats about Notre Dame's opponents. To take one example, I was convinced we were in grave danger against Florida State two years ago after looking at both the statistical breakdown and qualitative assessments of FSU's play.
I'm going to start by referencing an outstanding post on NDNation by jack_lorri_is_god, looking at how ISU's performance in their losses differs from their performance in their wins. The post is here. The big takeaway that s/he noted is that most of ISU's statistics were not significantly different in their losses than in their wins. The big exception was offensive rebounding (not, as one might think, three point shooting) and two point shooting, which one might expect to carry over from offensive rebounding.
Moving on, let's look at the overall profile of the teams. I lean heavily on Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free, opponent-adjusted efficiencies and the various tempo-free rate stats he provides for each team.
Notre Dame ranks 12th in opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency and 86th in defensive efficiency, a common trend with past Mike Brey teams. We play very slow, as our adjusted tempo is 319th fastest in the country at 61.6 possessions/game. On offense, we shoot the ball well both inside and outside, we're above average rebounding the ball, and below average getting to the free throw line. We don't turn the ball over much, but we're not as zealous at holding onto the ball as past editions of the Irish, turning the ball over on 17.4% of possessions. Relative to the rest of college basketball, we attempt three point shots less frequently than most teams, and we pass very well as shown by our very high percentage of baskets that are assisted. On defense, we're above average in field goal percentage allowed, above average in defensive rebounding, outstanding at not giving up free throws, and awful at forcing turnovers---the last is a consistent feature of Notre Dame's defenses under Mike Brey. If you believe the research into how teams take and defend three point shots, Notre Dame defends the three point shot well, ranking 47th best in the country in opponent three point field goal attempts as a percentage of total field goal attempts (only seven other NCAA tournament teams rank better), and this is also reflected in the relatively high proportion of opponent points scored on two point field goals as well as the relatively high proportion of opponent baskets that are assisted.
Iowa State is, in some ways, a mirror of Notre Dame in profile. The Cyclones rank 8th in offensive efficiency, 135th in defensive efficiency, they don't get to the free throw line on offense, and they don't force turnovers on defense. That's the end of the similarities, though. The Cyclones like to play fast, ranking 33rd in adjusted tempo at 69.3 possessions/game. They take a lot of three point field goal attempts, ranking eighth highest in the country in three point field goal attempts as a percentage of total field goal attempts. They're above-average at offensive rebounding, above average at protecting the ball, and excellent at both two-point and three-point shooting. On defense, the Cyclones are above average at rebounding the ball and avoiding giving up free throws. They're below-average in two point field goal percentage defense but excellent at three point field goal percentage defense; if you believe current research on how teams take and defend three point shots, however, the good three point field goal percentage defense is an artifact of luck, as the Cyclones are dead average defensively in opponent three point field goal attempts as a percentage of total field goal attempts.
Beyond pure efficiency stats, Iowa State mostly uses a short-ish line-up. Most of the minutes go to players standing 5-11, 6-2, 6-5, 6-5, 6-6, 6-7, and 6-7. Despite the frequency with which they bomb from long range (or possibly because of it), only one player (6-2 guard Tyrus McGee) shoots over 40% from behind the arc. Georges Niang at 38.9% and Chris Babb at 37.8% are also dangerous, but the rest of the Cyclones lineup ranges from 31% to 35% and aren't a big threat unless they get hot.
So what's my big take-home from all of this? I think Iowa State is actually a pretty good match-up for Notre Dame, contrary to the opinion of a lot of talking heads (and I have no idea what their basis is for thinking otherwise). Although there are a couple of examples of the Irish getting a little flustered by faster pace against DePaul this season, historically Mike Brey's use of the slow-down "burn" offense has frustrated fast-paced Big East teams (notably Louisville) and even medium-paced teams (like Pitt). The Irish defend the three-point shot very well and are more susceptible to inside play, particularly when the offense makes the extra pass to catch ND in slow help rotations. The Cyclones may also be bothered by the length of Notre Dame, as point guard Korie Lucious gives up two inches to Eric Atkins and sixth man Tyrus McGee gives up three inches to Jerian Grant. If Iowa State lights it up from outside, or if the Cyclones can drive past overaggressive three point defense by the Irish, they have a great shot at winning the game. However, I think the most likely result is a close win by Notre Dame.