The Cyclones are going dancing.
As announced on ESPN’s Selection Monday, Iowa State will play in the 2021 NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed facing off with No. 10 Michigan State in the first round on Monday, March 22.
“This stuff never gets old,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said after learning of the selection. “Aside from watching my grandkids open their Christmas presents, this is as good as it gets. Especially this year, with what this team has gone through.”
The Spartans and Cyclones have just one common opponent between each other with both schools facing off with Iowa this season.
MSU beat the Hawkeyes in their first matchup on December 12, but lost by 15 to Iowa in their last pre-NCAA Tournament game on Friday.
Iowa State was narrowly downed by Iowa in Iowa City.
“I don’t know a ton about Michigan State,” Fennelly said. “I know Nia Clouden is a great player. I remember her out of high school. I don’t know that I’ve seen them play all year. We really don’t scout that way, but that’s the great thing about this tournament. You’re going to see someone you haven’t seen.”
The two schools have some history with each other as well.
Iowa State earned its last trip to the Elite 8 by erasing a 7-point deficit in the final 1:23 of regulation against Michigan State. Highlights of that finish can be seen below.
“I have no idea about anything about Michigan State,” freshman Emily Ryan said. “Coach (Jamie Steyer) was talking about the awesome comeback at the end of the game. That was kind of exciting to hear about the deep history we have at Iowa State. I’m excited to continue that.”
Fennelly is also familiar with Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant.
The head coach of the Spartans played against Fennelly’s Toledo Rockets before Fennelly came to Iowa State.
“Suzie Merchant is a very good friend of mine,” Fennelly said. “I’m so old I coached against her. She was a great player at Central Michigan when I was at Toledo.”
Iowa State’s berth in the NCAA Tournament marks the 19th time during head coach Bill Fennelly’s tenure in which they will have qualified for the biggest postseason bracket.
It will also mark the 21st time in which Iowa State has qualified for a postseason tournament under the coach.
“It never gets old, because it’s a different team,” Fennelly said. “It’s our freshmen’s’ first (tournament) and it could be our seniors’ last. We just don’t know. It is so exciting and so invigorating on so many levels. There’s nothing better than working late into the night, tonight. That’s as good as it gets.”
Kristin Scott’s status for the game is questionable, though, at the moment.
Scott was in a boot during Iowa State’s selection show watch party on Monday night. She did not play in overtime of the loss against Texas at the Big 12 Tournament.
“She’s struggling,” Fennelly said. “It’s going to be a while before she can practice. The good news is that we play Monday, so you get one more day to rest. She was too sore (before overtime) and she needed rest. I think she’ll be ready to go but we’ll take that extra day to rest. We will.”
The winner of the first round game will face off with either No. 2 Texas A&M or No. 15 Troy.
Iowa State’s matchup with Michigan State will begin at 5:00 p.m. CT on Monday and will be televised by ESPN.