I'm a native of Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. It was there that I was inflicted with the curse of being a Minnesota Vikings fan. There is still no known cure, though many times I wish there was. I'm also an avid follower of the Minnesota Twins and of course, the Iowa State Cyclones.
You can’t clinch an NCAA tournament berth in November, but you can give the selection committee plenty to think about with a pair of early, high-profile wins. That’s exactly what Iowa State has done by following up an important home win against then-7th-ranked Michigan with a heart-stopping road win at BYU where visitors seldom find success. The Cyclones not only boosted their RPI simply by playing these two foes, winning gives them a bump if they end up on the bubble or find themselves teetering between seeds.
It’s widely agreed that last year’s ISU hoops squad probably wouldn’t have won a game like the ones against Michigan and BYU. That was a team that had trouble closing out opponents. Just a few games into this season, however, we’ve already seen the Cyclones rally from two second-half deficits and, in the latter, overcome the loss of key players. Somehow, ISU managed to close out a win at BYU with a couple sophomores, a couple freshman and a Juco transfer who had barely played on the floor. That says something about your team’s toughness and maturity. It also bodes well for later in the season when they find themselves battling to the finish with the likes of Oklahoma State and Kansas, whether at home or on the road. It’s no guarantee of victory but maybe, just maybe, ISU fans won’t have to brace so hard for a seemingly inevitable last-second downfall that cost them wins against those same teams last season.