Looking at the latest updates in college basketball bracketology, just about everyone (except Jerry Palm, naturally) currently sees the Iowa State men’s basketball team as one of the last teams to make it into the NCAA Tournament. With a potential to grab a victory over a top-ranked team this week, that would likely give the Cyclones what they need to get in the dance.
First, Joe Lunardi from ESPN has Iowa State as a 12th seed in the Midwest region. They would have a play-in game against Temple in Dayton, Ohio, before taking on 5th-seed UNLV in Salt Lake City, Utah. If Iowa State were able to win those first two games, a potential interesting matchup in the third round would be against 4th-seed Syracuse. Who knows what the Cyclones could accomplish with their 3-point attack against Jim Boeheim’s zone defense and the team has struggled as of late.
Chris Dobbertean from SB Nation has the same play-in game Lunardi has, except both Iowa State and Temple would be 11th-seeds in the East region and would stay in Dayton to take on 6th-seed Pittsburgh. This potential region seems the least threatening outside of Duke, unless Michigan plays to its potential. Florida and Syracuse round out the top four seeds in the region.
Lastly, Palm from CBS Sports doesn’t have Iowa State in the tournament, currently projecting them as the first team out. However, he has Massachusetts in which neither Lunardi or Dobbertean either. Looking closer at the Minutemen, the best win non-conference was an 85-76 win at home against Ohio and the best conference win is a 61-60 road win over La Salle.
Not only was the competition better overall for the Cyclones, but they’ve also played a tougher schedule (even adding it that ridiculously easy non-conference slate) than the Minutemen. Putting them, or Villanova, or really even SEC teams Kentucky and Tennessee, over Iowa State at the moment doesn’t make much sense when real-time RPI is relatively close (all in the 50′s). Notch another victory against a ranked opponent like Oklahoma State and it would be hard for those other schools to make a case over the Cyclones.