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On Heartbreak, Triumph, And Finding Meaning (Or Lack Thereof)

What caused such an inauspicious end to Iowa State's season?

A somber end to the season
A somber end to the season
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

You're trying to find a bigger meaning to how Iowa State lost. I get it, because I find myself doing the same, but the reason the Cyclones lost is probably more simple than trying to read into what Naz Long meant by saying the team being lackadaisical or if the team might have overlooked UAB thinking about a Final Four run.


If there's no psychological failure, how does the #9 team in the country lose to a team that lost 9 games before the calendar even hit 2015? Every team in the tournament outside of maybe Kentucky isn't immune to a bad game, and today for the Cyclones:

It was Georges Niang going 4 for 15 after having a 21-46 run at the Sprint Center last week.

It was Dustin Hogue having the first scoreless game of his Cyclone career.

It was Iowa State getting outrebounded 52-37, 19-9 on the offensive end.

It was Fred Hoiberg's team shooting a pitiful 36% after averaging 48% over the season.

All this happening on one day in a single elimination tournament leads to images like this.

When it comes down to it, the NCAA Tournament is called March Madness for a reason... it's remarkably fickle. If UAB's William Lee missed his tough, clutch shot in the last minute, maybe the Cyclones survive and have an another amazing five game stretch to win the tourney. But we'll never know.

Fred Hoiberg's best team on paper in the last four tournament years is the only one to crash out in the first round. If that isn't proof that there's nothing more to it, I don't know what is. While it hurts cardinal and gold fans and players everywhere right now (and will for a while), the chaos is truly the beauty of the NCAA Tournament.

If I were to write the epitaph for the Iowa State's 2014-2015 season, it would read:

Here lies Iowa State, a very good team who reached the end of the line when their flaws caught up with them on one bad morning. A flame that burned oh so brightly in Kansas City and was extinguished just as quickly in an arena named by a fried chicken empire.

If I'm going to have one lasting image of the season, it'll be this one.