What Do We Want Out of the Big 12 Bracket?

Jamie Squire

I don't know who "mred" is, but he is a godsend in times like these.

No relation to PermRed, I promise.

Our pal mred -- evidently an Iowa State alum with a gargantuan amount of time on his hands -- has so kindly created a machine that will tell you how Big 12 Tournament seeding will shake out based on who wins each game for the rest of the season.

It's wonderful because frankly I'm tired of the official "Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Seeding and Tiebreaker Procedures" page showing up as one of the "favorites" on my web browser. Actually, I think I'm more ashamed than anything that I have to constantly revisit the page because I keep forgetting what the tiebreaker procedures are.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

The best case for Iowa State is a 2 seed and the worst is a 6. Considering the preseason poll had them at No. 4 (UNLESS YOU WERE THESE MORONS), I'd say that's a pretty fitting scenario. Win out and it can't get worse than a 3 seed -- the 2 would require two wins and a little help from our three Texas buddies not called the Longhorns over the next few days.

Again, just punch whatever hypotheticals you can think of into mred's super-machine and blow an afternoon at work if you want. But for now, let's take a look at what we know and what we want...

What we know is that Iowa State will not play Day 1 (next Wednesday). For those new to the party, this is called the First Round and it's reserved for the bottom four teams in the Big 12 -- the 7 seed plays the 10 seed and the 8 plays the 9. TCU and Texas Tech have summer homes in this part of the bracket, and they have for some time. The 8/9 winner gets Kansas, the 7/10 winner gets the 2 seed, and the two losers who don't live to see Thursday start gearing up for football season.

As a 6 seed at worst, Iowa State is guaranteed to play Thursday -- the quarterfinals -- Day 2, if you prefer. I'm incredibly cynical, so hear me out while I pick off scenarios that make my stomach churn, so we can get down to an ideal Big 12 Tournament path for Iowa State...

First, the Cyclones generally play their best when the lights are brightest. I've used this statement in conversation and debate countless times recently, and I have to give credit to my Cyclone Fanatic pal Brent Blum who quipped it (via Chris Williams) prior to the West Virginia rematch in Ames last week. But it's true.

Give these Iowa State Cyclones a night game.

Virtually nobody is in front of a TV when the 4/5 game tips off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning, and that certainly isn't the most attractive matchup for Iowa State anyway since it pits two fairly evenly-matched teams against each other (as 4/5 would suggest). At the very least, we should hope the Cyclones' first game in the tournament is one that offers some sort of discernible advantage. If, by some terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad twist of fate, Iowa State ends up drawing Kansas State for the 4/5 game -- in Kansas City no less -- I'm taking a week-long siesta and you can wake me up Sunday afternoon before the selection show.

And let's not even address the fact that the 4/5 winner likely gets Kansas in the semifinal.

No way. Hard pass.

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Get me out of the upper half of the bracket completely. It appears that Iowa State's most preferable fate may also be its most likely if they win these final two games: the 3 seed. The 3/6 game tips off at 8:30 p.m. against a likely foe that they have proven to beat at least once this season -- and certainly could again on a neutral floor (Who am I kidding -- it's Hilton South!). Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State are all three candidates for the 6 seed, and unless mred's robot is lying to me, the latter two are probably most likely. I've said before that playing teams that are in desperation mode in a conference tournament is a less-than-desirable thing, but come next week, all three could very well have their NCAA Tournament fates already sealed.

There's no right or wrong answer here. Something to keep in mind is that, at one point or another this season, this Iowa State fan base has thought their team was good enough to win the Big 12. Folks, there is certainly no better time to rekindle that kind of optimism than next Thursday. I think we can all agree that for the first time in a long time, this team is capable of beating anybody, anytime, anywhere.

Fred Hoiberg will have the Cyclones dancing yet again this year -- that much is certain. But next Saturday night at the Sprint Center, somewhere underneath the bleachers, there will be a ladder and a pair of scissors awaiting the victors of the Big 12 Tournament.

And neither of them have Bill Self's name on it.

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