The monkey is finally off the Iowa State men’s basketball team, grabbing a win against Baylor at Waco and doing so convincingly. Fred Hoiberg may have actually been sick coaching his team Wednesday night, but he certainly had to feel better about his team than a week ago. Now the next challenge for the third-year head coach is to get his team to avoid a letdown game against a bad Texas Tech squad before alternating home and away games in a tough stretch to the Big 12 tournament.
It hasn’t been about this team not playing well with their 2-5 start in Big 12 road games. Outside of the bad effort against the Red Raiders in Lubbock, the Cyclones have played great offensively. They’re currently fifth in the nation with 79.3 points per game. The loss at Kansas State was just the Wildcats outplaying them plain and simple.
Looking back at all the games, especially the games against Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma State that all got away in the final minute of regulation, there should be no more than two losses for Iowa State in Big 12 play. Just watching the slugfest between the Jayhawks and Cowboys as the Cyclones were playing should have made all ISU fans disappointed that they aren’t in contention to win the Big 12 without help.
That’s all in the past though; now for Iowa State it’s to do what they can to improve their NCAA tournament resume. They’ve already played bad once against Texas Tech, and losing to them twice would automatically kick them out of the tournament contention. After that, what’s left is the big home game against Kansas, at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State at home, and finishing up at West Virginia.
All four of those games are huge, especially the regular season finale. The Cyclones don’t want to bypass the Mountaineers only to struggle against their defense and take a bad hit going into the conference tournament.
Iowa State sits on the fringe of the NCAA tournament. As great as it was to finally get a big win on the road in Big 12 play, it’s time to pad that resume and get something better than just an eight or nine seed and having to face a team like Indiana in game two. Enough opportunity was wasted in the previous five losses on the road. It’s time to get a winning streak going and make those great performances count as wins.