Iowa State’s plan is to raise the confidence level heading into NCAA Tournament
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You’d think a veteran would be the go-to player when seeking an opinion about Iowa State’s NCAA Tournament seed heading into Thursday’s Big 12 Conference tournament game against Baylor.
But in this instance, Mike Jacobson deferred to a freshman.
“Ask Tyrese (Haliburton),” Jacobson suggested to me Wednesday. “He’s the guy if you need to know what time a certain game is, who’s playing who — stuff like that. Tyrese always knows. He’s the guy to ask.”
So, Tyrese, if you were a bracketologist and you’ve already got Iowa State solidly in the NCAA Tournament, what seed range are you thinking about heading into the 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal at the Sprint Center?
“In my opinion … “
Haliburton rubbed his chin, and then proceeded to rattle off multiple situations, before coming up with this:
“After we win this tournament, we’ll be back to a four- or five seed.”
Momentum and a championship trophy aside, there’s really not a lot at stake for Iowa State this week. Steve Prohm’s team likely will be in the No. 5-7 seed range on Selection Sunday, regardless of what happens this week.
So don’t overreact if Iowa State beats Baylor for the first time this season. Don’t go bonkers if it loses. From a seeding standpoint, what happens to the Cyclones essentially doesn’t mean squat.
“Barring a deep, deep run, I’d say plus or minus one line from their current seed is their range,” ESPN’s Joe Lunardi told The Register.
As of Wednesday, the Cyclones were a No. 7 in Des Moines on USA Today’s brackets, an eight-seed in Columbus, Ohio by CBS’ Jerry Palm; and a No. 7 in South Carolina by ESPN.
“Win or lose to Baylor shouldn’t really change anything,” said Shelby Mast, who author’s the USA TODAY bracket reports. “Win against Kansas State, and it could bump up a seed line. Win the whole thing, and you’re looking at low-five or high-six seed.”
Win Thursday, and you’re looking at momentum heading into Friday’s semifinal round, likely against those top-seeded Wildcats. Lose that one?
“An early exit wouldn’t hurt much, though, because it would be a loss to a good team,” Palm said.
So there’s that, which takes me back to the momentum thing. Given what’s transpired for this Iowa State team the past three or so weeks, getting and staying in a positive mindset is more important right now than guessing what will happen Sunday.
“You have a chance to improve seeding, but the biggest thing is we’ve got a chance to improve our guys’ confidence,” Prohm said. “The last three weeks — it hasn’t been very good. It’s been stressful. It’s been tough.”
The recovery process started by playing mostly well during last Saturday’s 80-73 loss against Texas Tech. It continued with good practices. Another positive step was post player Cameron Lard practicing so well this week that he’ll likely play a lot Thursday — after not playing last Saturday.
“Cameron has had a great week of practice,” Prohm said. “George (Conditt) has been good in the moments he played against West Virginia and Texas. I’m excited to see what Cameron does here.”
I asked Nick Weiler-Babb his assessment of it all. He deferred on the seeding, but talked about the tournament’s other ramifications.
“Winning is the main thing,” he said, standing outside the locker room Wednesday. “That’s what we need to do. We have to get back to the feel of winning and having fun on the court.
“We’ve put the struggles we had the past couple games aside.”
For Iowa State, that’s the real importance of this tournament. The Team Turmoil tag started to evaporate a bit last Saturday. It can be long gone by playing well — and even winning — on Thursday.
Winning on Thursday means successfully defending the 3-point line. It means significant improvement from the 37 percent 3-point percentage that’s haunted the team during the current three-game losing streak.
It means moving the ball with swiftness and purpose. It means not getting killed on the boards.
“When the ball is moving really well and when we play with energy — that’s Team A,” Haliburton said. “Team A is when we’re energetic, when we’re defending and when we’re moving the basketball.
“Team B is when we’re stagnant and when we’re not rebounding.”
Team B doesn’t affect its NCAA Tournament seeding. But Team A could get to Saturday night.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register