There’s good news and bad news Cyclone fans:
The good… Iowa State’s second-round NCAA tournament opponent is a No. 12 seed from the one-bid Mid-American Conference who notched its first-ever NCAA victory Sunday night. The Cyclones have been to the tournament 11 times in 14 years under Coach Bill Fennelly and won at least one game 10 of those trips.
The bad… That opponent — Ball State — bounced defending national champion Tennessee, a historic event no matter massive the rebuilding project is for Pat Summitt. The Lady Vols had never been beaten in the first or second rounds of the NCAAs.
Never. In the 28-year history of the event.
Ball State’s 71-55 win at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky., a few hours northwest of Rocky Top, was a shocker. Even BSU players couldn’t believe the lopsided final score.
“I would be lying to you if I told you I thought it would be a 16-point victory,” guard Kiley Jarrett said. “It is just unbelievable.”
The Cardinals (26-8 overall, 14-2 MAC) had just one win this season against the tournament field, against an Evansville team that made it in with a losing record and was beaten 80-45 by Texas A&M in the first round.
What they have now is confidence, and a lot of it.
The pressure is all on Iowa State (25-8) to live up to its No. 4 seed at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night on ESPN2.
Beating Tennessee — who became the first defending champs to fall in their first game the following year — was Ball State’s biggest win in school history.
Can David Letterman U. do that one better?
I doubt it.
But Iowa State may not be in as good of a position as some think. They are favored to win and should be, though their opponents have a lot of momentum and nothing to lose.
That’s a dangerous combination.