Currently Iowa State is sitting at 8-0, the lone undefeated team in the Big 12 conference and ranked 17th in the AP poll and 13th in the Coaches Poll. When the season began, it was unlikely Iowa State would be in this position. Melvin Ejim was injured and Iowa State had contests against Michigan, BYU, Iowa, and a pesky UNI team. It’s weird to think about, but this team is only a handful of possessions away from being 4-4.
Dec 7, 2013; Des Moines, IA, USA; Northern Iowa Panthers guard Deon Mitchell (1) is defended by forward George Niang (31) of the Iowa State Cyclones at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
The difference between a win and a loss can be close though, and often only a handful of possessions determine a season’s fate. Despite the impressive record and ranking, this Cyclone team will eventually lose, the question is simply when.
It may happen this next week when the Cyclones play at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. For Iowa State to remain undefeated, they may very well have to get past a good St. Mary’s team, who is also currently undefeated and has gone to the NCAA tournament four of the last six seasons.
If the Cyclones are able get out of Hawaii unscathed and defeat Northern Illinois in what should be an easy victory, that will bring us to Big 12 play, where the Cyclones will open with Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Those four teams are currently a combined 36-6, and believe it or not Kansas has three losses while Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas only have one a piece.
Few victories will be easy for Iowa State this season. The Big 12 conference has been very impressive in non-conference games and several teams expected to have down seasons have proved they will be competitive in the top half of the conference.
Regardless, it’s important to keep the current rankings and record in perspective for these Cyclones. This team, like any team will have some ups and downs. It will lose some games on the road it should not and will probably win some games it should not. For the time being though, just sit back and enjoy what may be the best Iowa State season in over a decade.