Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State and Atlantic 10 make up this weeks Sunday Mailbag

The Mailbag is a little late this week but it is still packed full of content. The Mailbag this week travels to the Big 12 and the Atlantic 10,

Iowa State guard Jackson Paveletzke (1) dribbles up court past Oklahoma guard Le'Tre Darthard (0) in
Iowa State guard Jackson Paveletzke (1) dribbles up court past Oklahoma guard Le'Tre Darthard (0) in / NATHAN J. FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY
2 of 3

Which Big 12 team is most likely to get exposed in league play?

This was a question that I immediately had an answer to when it was asked and if any of you were following along this week I was having a conversation about this very topic on twitter this week as well. To properly answer this question we have to look at the Big 12 in 2023-2024. As you all know, or maybe some don’t know that conference realignment is taking your favorite team and moving them around to places you never thought they would end up.

The Big 12 added four teams this year and they are Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, and UCF. Those teams are paired with the original members of the Big 12 of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. After this season Oklahoma and Texas are off to the SEC and the Big 12 will get former Pac 12 members Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, and Colorado. 

We are only going to focus on this year's version of the league and the team most likely to get exposed. That team is the Iowa State Cyclones. I know this is not going to sit well with Cyclone Nation but it is true and I am going to get into it here in a second why I think so. Iowa State is a team that is currently in the projected NCAA tournament field because their metrics are great yet they don’t have any good wins to speak of at this point in the year. The Cyclones are a team who have figured out a way to game the system by destroying really bad teams and making their efficiency rankings go through the roof.

How so?  Well as of the time of this writing Iowa State has beaten Green Bay, Lindenwood, Grambling, Idaho State, DePaul, Iowa, Prairie View A&M, Florida A&M, Eastern Illinois, and New Hampshire by an average margin of victory of about 35 points. That has made them extremely efficient and that has given them great analytics rankings which show positively for their NCAA tournament resume. 

The facts are that when Iowa State plays good teams they have lost or kept the game close. That is of course with the exception of Iowa. The Cyclones only beat VCU by 4, lost to Virginia Tech by 9, and lost to Texas A&M by 4. Those games are the ones I am concerned about with Iowa State. They should be beating the bad teams by a ton of points but what about the teams who are supposed to be on a level playing field with you those are the ones you need to beat. When it was prove-it time in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma, the Cyclones didn’t look very good again and lost by 8 points. 

It is helping their resume that they are not getting blown out when they lose but eventually they are going to have to beat some of these teams and show that they are a legitimate tournament team who can beat other tournament teams. Iowa State has Houston looming and the streak of not getting blown out may end. The Cyclones have a lot to prove in the Big 12.