The Iowa State men’s basketball team was awarded the 3 seed in the East region of the NCAA tournament. How far will the Cyclones go, or will their dream be cut short by another MEAC team?
First, here’s the entire list of teams in the East region by seeding:
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Villanova Wildcats
- Iowa State Cyclones
- Michigan State Spartans
- Cincinnati Bearcats
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- Connecticut Huskies
- Memphis Tigers
- George Washington Colonials
- St. Joseph’s Hawks
- Providence Friars
- Harvard Crimson
- Delaware Blue Hens
- NC Central Eagles
- Milwaukee Panthers
- Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
First reaction: There’s a lot of legendary basketball talent in here. UNC, Cincinnati, UConn, Villanova. In previous years, this would be labeled as the bracket of death. Instead, lots of these teams haven’t been focused on this year, or aren’t as strong as they have been. Because Virginia and Villanova are regarded as the weaker one and two seeds nationally, there will be plenty of people that will pick both Iowa State and Michigan State to be the East region final representatives.
Favorite team in the East: Between the Cyclones and Spartans, I’m going to assume most people will pick Michigan State. All the ESPN pundits have them winning the whole thing. They always seem to make the Sweet 16 (at least) every year, and they proved again that they’re tournament ready by getting a Big Ten championship in the conference tournament. Iowa State fans also haven’t forgotten the Elite Eight loss against MSU back in 2000, and if they happen to meet up in the same round, it would be a glorifying way to clean out the skeletons in the closet.
Most underrated team that can win the East: North Carolina. This region could get crazy, and the Tar Heels are as unpredictable as any team this season. They’ve been able to beat great teams this year, but struggled against the weaker teams. Iowa State could easily get overwhelmed despite UNC not being at their top level of play in the last few years. Don’t forget, Roy Williams is an amazing head coach, and they can’t be overlooked.
No respect for Virginia? It wouldn’t be a shock to see a team like Memphis or George Washington get pretty far. There’s no respect meant toward Virginia; their defense is built for tournament play and they have taken down the ACC bigs all season long. But will they be able to handle the pressure of being a one seed? Memphis was a solid American Athletic Conference representative, and George Washington was one of the teams that had a hot start in the college basketball season.
Most overrated upset pick: Harvard over Cincinnati. I get it, the AAC wasn’t the greatest conference. But if anyone’s going to pick a 12 to take down a five, better options are VCU and St. Louis. Stephen F. Austin has won 28 straight games, and the Billikens have really struggled since finally dropping their first game of the season. I just don’t think the Crimson can handle either Sean Kilpatrick or Justin Jackson, and the Bearcats would love a defensive basketball game that Harvard needs to get a win.
Who will win the East: Virginia. The Cavaliers are the worst matchup for Iowa State, and they’ll beat the Cyclones in the regional final. It will be a game similar to the final two matchups against Baylor, except Iowa State won’t be able to come back like they were in the Big 12 championship.