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Consider this week’s Big 12 Tournament a low-risk, high-reward venture for No. 21 Iowa State.
A loss on Thursday to Oklahoma (a current two-seed, according to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi), likely doesn’t budge the Cyclones from the No. 5 line.
How about a win over the Sooners?
“Yeah, I think that could help,” Lunardi told me today during a conference call.
Obviously, plenty depends on what happens to current No. 4s and No. 5s such as Purdue, Texas A&M and Maryland in their respective tournaments, but it’s clear that ISU should enter the Sprint Center buoyed by an array of possibilities, not concerned about a potential drop.
“I would agree,” Lunardi said. “They’re not likely to slide much because of the power of the Big 12 and what they’ve done. They have way more to gain than they do to lose, I agree.”
Last season’s run to a Big 12 Championship helped the Cyclones rise to the three-line, and the 2014 tournament triumph pushed them up to a No. 3 seed, as well. Potentially facing — and beating —Oklahoma, West Virginia (currently a No. 3) and Kansas (the current No. 1 overall) could lead to a similar leap. ISU’s coaches and players are primed to turn those opportunities into true progress toward Selection Sunday.
“You’ve just got to come in and really take it one game at a time,” ISU All-American GeorgesNiang said. “I feel like if you can really get things going the first game, you catch some momentum and then from there on, who tells what’s happening. I think this team, even though we lost (Saturday against the Jayhawks), we’re hitting a pretty good groove going into March and the Big 12 tournament, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”