Iowa State comes into the NCAA tournament as a 3 seed with a 25-8 record. The Cyclones finished off the regular season by beating the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 championship game. Winning the tournament of the best conference in college basketball is pretty accomplishing. Also, during the season, the Cyclones went 12-6 in conference play. Some might say that .666 isn't impressive, BUT, like I said before, the Big 12 has been the best conference in the NCAA and the team that won it was only 1 game better than ISU. In the season, ISU was 6-4 against teams that are 5 seeds or higher in the tourney. Above .500 against the best 19 teams in the nation(19 because ISU is 1 of the 20) is good. In their history, Iowa State has only been to one Final Four and are 16-16 in the 16 appearances they have. This year, look for them to make the win column grow to be more than the loss column.
Iowa State gets UAB in the first round, who shouldn't pose much of a threat, considering the fact that they went 12-6 in Conference USA and they haven't beaten a ranked opponent all season. The second round, however, would be much harder. The Cyclones would play the winner of the SMU-UCLA game. SMU is the favorite to win that game and went 27-6 this season. This year is the first time that SMU has made the NCAA tournament since '93, after being left out last year, when they deserved to be in it. However, UCLA could pull it off and beat them. Either way, Iowa State shouldn't have MUCH of a battle, and should go to the Sweet 16 fairly easily. The third round is when it starts to get tougher. If Gonzaga takes care of business as they should in the first 2 rounds, they will be playing in the Sweet 16 against the Cyclones. Gonzaga will be a tough test. They were 1st overall in field goal percentage in the whole NCAA, 6th in APG, and 10th in PPG. On the defensive end of the ball, the Zags are 2nd in RPG, but 45th in points allowed. So, that being said, if ISU can play defense, they shouldn't have too hard of a time on offense, and should take the "W". I mentioned that it would be hard to take Gonzaga down, well their next opponent, assuming they don't get upset before the elite eight like they have in the past, would be Duke. Duke has one of the best players in the country in Jahlil Okafor and was 4th in the NCAA in PPG and 3rd in field goal percentage. Duke is a weird team. They beat 4 teams that were ranked in the top 10(at the time they played) this season, yet 2 of their 4 losses were to NC State and Miami! Just to be clear, Miami didn't even make the tournament and NC State lost to teams such as Wofford, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Boston College! That being said, Duke does play good against good teams, winning 7 of their 9 games against ranked opponent. In the end, Iowa State hopes to pull of the upset and win the region.
So, the answer is yes... Iowa State is good enough to win their region, and I believe they are good enough to make it all the way to the championship. Sorry Cyclones, but if you do make it to the championship, all I have to say is, I'm rooting for you, but good luck against Kentucky.
-Blake McBride, MHS