Iowa State’s loss to Kansas was not something the Cyclones should hang their heads about. The Cyclones battled for 40 minutes, made comeback after comeback, hit big shots, and stuck with arguably the best team in college basketball.
Jan 29, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) grabs a pass intended for Iowa State Cyclones forward Melvin Ejim (3) during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 92 – 81. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
While Iowa State did not play perfect basketball in the loss, they played generally well, all things considered. Allen Fieldhouse is a really tough place to play, as can be seen by the Cyclones’ mere three wins at Kansas since 2000, which is actually the most wins in Allen Fieldhouse by any Big 12 team in that time span.
What sets this game apart though, is not the Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere. Kansas happens to be really good. Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins both may be top five NBA draft picks. In fact, it’s possible they’ll be the top two overall picks. Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis, among others, aren’t bad either.
Despite a slow start, this Kansas team is the best in college basketball. They are not as talented across the board as the 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats, the team with Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that beat the Royce White-led Cyclones in the round of 32 in the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, Bill Self happens to be a really good coach, better than John Calipari, Roy Williams, and other peers who significantly bring in top talent from all around the country. This Kansas team has the potential to become one of the best we’ve seen in college basketball in a long time, possibly in the last two decades.
This certainly doesn’t mean the Jayhawks are unbeatable. I’d be surprised if they don’t eventually lose in conference play. There are too many good teams in the Big 12 for Kansas to not eventually slip up. Who knows, perhaps they’ll even meet Fred Hoiberg’s squad in the Big 12 tournament like last season.
In the event that happens, it’s worth understanding if these two teams played 10 times, Kansas would win about 8 or 9 of those contests. Despite having lesser talent, Iowa State was in Wednesday night’s game until the very end. If a controversial intentional foul call on Dustin Hogue goes the other way, it is possible Iowa State pulls out the win.
Iowa State has the tools to beat Kansas. As we’ve seen before, teams under Fred Hoiberg will not back down. If the Cyclones and Jayhawks meet again, and Iowa State wins, the upset will simply be much more monumental than in previous years.