Even though the Iowa State men’s basketball team is enjoying their first victory in Big 12 play, the party will be short-lived. A heavy-loaded schedule in January just about assures that the Cyclones won’t come out of it unscathed.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of January and the first two games in February:
- vs Baylor
- at Oklahoma
- vs Kansas
- at Texas
- vs Kansas State
- at Kansas
- vs Oklahoma
- at Oklahoma State
Coming out of that slate with a 21-0 record won’t happen, especially after Oklahoma and Texas have emerged as NCAA Tournament contenders. The Wildcats are the easiest team on the slate and they’ve won nine straight games after defeating 6th-ranked Oklahoma State.
Texas technically has the lowest RPI (61), but road games are always tougher as we all saw at Texas Tech.
Outside of those two teams (KSU has an RPI of 56), the other four opponents have an RPI of 22 or higher (Kansas has number one). Don’t like RPI talk? Let’s translate it to something basic: those six different teams in that slate have a combined 67-14 record.
The question isn’t if Iowa State will go undefeated, it’s when they will lose their first game of the season. Both Northern Illinois and Texas Tech were able to get rebounding advantage in the last two games; that could spell disaster against Baylor if the Cyclones don’t tighten things up inside.
(We could go through all the scenarios with the other five teams, but that’s what upcoming previews are for!)
If there’s anything that’s favorable about the schedule, it’s the alternation of home and away games. Unfortunately, facing the bottom three teams in the conference won’t happen again until five of the final six games in February.
That’s a real bummer for the Cyclones, but it won’t be the end of the world when they lose. When it does happen, the next question will be how the team will respond.