Despite a disappointing end to the Big 12 season at the hands of the Texas Longhorns, the Cyclones are poised to be selected today for the NCAA Tournament. Can our unorthodox style of play lend to a surprising run, or will our fate be no different than 2005, when Iowa State beat #8 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers then fell to #1 seed, and eventual national champion, North Carolina?
Before the Big 12 Tournament, it looked like the Cyclones were destined for the 8/9 game, as just about every projection had them solidly in that slot. I'm not entirely sure that a win against Texas alone would have moved the Cyclones up, as much of the selection committee would have just considered it taking care of business. It may have taken 2 games for the Cyclones to get bumped up to a 7 seed.
Joe Lunardi - South Regional: #8 Cincinnati vs. #9 Iowa State. #1 Seed UNC.
Jerry Palm - Midwest Regional: #8 Iowa State vs. #9 Xavier. #1 Seed Syracuse.
SB Nation - Midwest Regional: #8 Iowa State vs #9 Purdue. #1 Seed Kentucky.
The Lunardi scenario is the nightmare, as Cincinnati is hot, coming off its run all the way to the Big East title game, a run that included handing Syracuse their second loss of the season. After that, it would be sleeping giant #1 UNC, both the last team to eliminate the Cyclones in an NCAA tournament and the team that Harrison Barnes spurned us for.
The other two projections have Iowa State playing in the Midwest regional in St Louis so if the Cyclones can somehow pull off a UNI type upset in Louisville, St Louis will be turned into Hilton South two weekends from now.
THREE SCENARIOS TO ROOT FOR
1. If you believe Iowa State is locked into the 8/9 slot, hope that we get placed in a region with the #4 overall seed, whether it be Kansas, Missouri, Michigan State, or Ohio State (There is no longer a rule barring conference foes from playing before the 3rd round, but the committee does like to avoid it, so we're better off with MSU or OSU as a 1 seed). I think all these teams represent a major downgrade from the trio of UNC, Syracuse, and Kentucky.
2. Hope that Fred Hoiberg made a deal with Rick Barnes and the committee to swap seeds with Texas in return for us losing to them and allowing the Longhorns into the tournament. We all know Texas doesn't need any more money, but perhaps we're giving Barnes a gift certificate to the Johnny Orr school of coaching in exchange for that 10 seed.
3. Baylor's win over Kansas impressing enough committee members about the Big 12's overall power that they somehow bump Iowa State to a 7 seed. This is as unlikely as anyone actually liking Baylor's new MC Hammer shorts.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
At this point the 8/9 slot seems unavoidable for Iowa State, but who really cares? For a Cyclone team that meshed a number of transfers and finished 3rd in the Big 12 we should be happy to be along for the ride. The first round match up is more than winnable and every #1 seed has shown shakiness down the stretch. Enjoy the Selection Show (preferably at Hilton) for the first time in six years and revel in the fact there is another meaningful basketball game at the end of this week.
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