Iowa State’s women’s basketball team has all but wrapped up a first-round bye in the Big 12 Conference tournament, sitting at 9-5 in the league with two games to play.
The Cyclones are in fourth place following Saturday’s 59-52 victory at Texas Tech and have a hammerlock on an upper-division finish with how the final week shakes out for competitors like Kansas State and Texas, who each have more difficult roads to navigate.
The teams play each other Wednesday night, meaning only one of them potentially can beat out ISU. K-State then has last-place Colorado (11-15, 3-11), while the Longhorns run up against league-leading Oklahoma.
ISU ends its season with a road test Tuesday at Missouri (13-14, 4-10) and home finale on Saturday against Kansas (16-11, 5-9).
They should win both and finish at 11-5, their best mark since going 12-4 in the 2004-05 season.
The No. 3 seed is a possibility in the event the Cyclones and Texas A&M tie. ISU beat the Aggies, 67-50, back on Feb. 4.
The Cyclones haven’t had an opening-round bye since earning the No. 3 seed for the 2001 Big 12 Tournament, which they ended up winning for the second straight year.
This year’s tournament is back in Oklahoma City, where ISU had great success two years ago in reaching the championship game as the No. 5 seed. The Cyclones have lost their first game of the tournament just once (2003) since the formation of the Big 12 at the start of the 1996-97 season.
Bye or no bye — and for the record Coach Bill Fennelly says he’s not real sure whether it is helpful or harmful — Iowa State figures to do something memorable next week.
They seem to have a flair for the dramatic in this event.