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Basketball

Williams Blog: All eyes on the prize

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 
You hear that? Opportunity is knocking on Iowa State’s door. Tonight, in front of what is expected to be a massive flock of Cyclone junkies in the Sprint Center, Iowa State will meet Baylor in hopes of winning its first Big 12 Tournament championship since 2000. 

There is without question a special feel in this 70 degree air here in Kansas City and now, as a slim 1.5 point favorite, the Cyclones simply need to close against a team that beat them just a few weeks ago. 

The key to tonight: Avoid the KU hangover. Friday night’s semifinal was an emotional win that unquestionably took a lot out of the Cyclones both physically and mentally. Iowa State can’t be happy with beating Kansas. Judging by the look on Fred Hoiberg’s face during postgame locker room interviews, he will have his guys ready to go. 

Hoiberg, a former player, knows all too well that having the opportunity to play for a championship doesn’t happen every year. 

Iowa State is a 1.5 favorite over a red hot Baylor team that has won 10 of 11 games. 

Quotable

Baylor coach Scott Drew after his team’s victory over Texas on Friday…

"Iowa State’s a great team.  And we just played them.  And I know they’ll have some extra hunger because it’s tough to beat a real good team after you just played them.  We played one of our better games of the year. And, again, they’re a team that can win a national championship and I think they’re going to be real successful in the NCAA tournament."

Pep rally/TV info

Iowa State’s pep rally in Kansas City will go down at 6:05 at the Power and Light District stage this evening.

The title game will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m.

LINKS

*** ESPN "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi moved Iowa State up to a 3-seed (in San Antonio) after Friday’s win. 

*** Jerry Palm from CBS still has the Cyclones on the 4-line (in San Diego).

*** According to Randy Peterson with the Des Moines Register, Fred Hoiberg will receive a $100,000 bonus if Iowa State wins the Big 12 Tournament. 

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