On Wednesday night, the Iowa State men’s basketball team will host Oklahoma State in a game that will strongly impact whether or not the Cyclones play in the NCAA tournament. It will end up being the biggest, most important night for the team. They’ll be in front of their fans for the last time in the regular season and all the seniors will be appreciated on their special night. But whatever the outcome of the game against Oklahoma State is, it shouldn’t have had this big of an impact on what postseason tournament Iowa State will play in.
Nine of the Cyclones’ 10 losses have come away from Hilton Coliseum. They’ve scored 70 or more points in all but two of those losses, and they had 69 in the loss to Oklahoma. Three losses came in overtime, two more were five points or less.
Anybody that says Iowa State hasn’t been playing well on the road isn’t paying attention. They have been putting up their offense most of the time, and outside of a few lackadaisical efforts, it’s been more of the defense not being able to stop penetration and not being able to make a big stop in the final minutes of a game.
As much as fans want to title this team as “heartbreaking” or “getting screwed by the refs,” there’s been plenty of times this team could have closed out a game and didn’t deliver. Then when everybody was on their side in a bad call against Kansas, everybody not named Tyrus McGee and Bubu Palo showed frustration and quit on the game at Oklahoma.
That’s not how great teams respond to adversity, and unfortunately this team has been plagued by not responding after heartbreaking losses. Anybody that wants to convince a non-fan that they’re actually good on the road couldn’t make up any excuses last Saturday.
Now, similar to a student procrastinating for a final exam, Iowa State is throwing all their chips in for one game. This is a game where the Cyclones will hope to feed off of the crowd, nail 3-point shots, and grab another huge upset at Hilton Coliseum to head to the dance. Just like rebounding against Kansas State after a bad loss at Texas Tech.
But that’s not what this game should be. Fred Hoiberg and the team should be in front of their fans to showcase an NCAA tournament team. If the squad doesn’t bring it against a quality team that forces turnovers and defends well in their home finale, it will be a shame to look back at what could have been.