AMES — Iowa State’s non-conference schedule was going to be tough enough. Add Duke, as the Cyclones have now done, and it’s downright nasty.
— Neutral site games against Duke, two of these three — Saint Louis, Notre Dame or Northwestern. Pairings have not been set.
— Road trips to California, Iowa and Drake.
— Home dates with Houston, Bradley, Northern Iowa and probably North Dakota State.
Keep in mind, Coach Greg McDermott isn’t expecting the sub-.500 teams he’s fielded the last three years. McDermott is thinking postseason, and he’s got the pre-conference schedule to get his team there.
“If you feel you have a team that can handle it, I think that’s the way you have to go,” he said.
The Duke game – set for Jan. 6, 2010, at the United Center in Chicago — came together quickly. Duke wanted a game against a Big 12 team, and ISU was happy to oblige, all things considered.
It will be the Cyclones’ last game prior to the start of league play.
“As we researched our schedule and what we had in place…it looked like something that at this point in the development of our program would be good for us,” McDermott said.
National exposure? Check. The game will go to a national ESPN audience.
Recruiting exposure? Check. It will be the team’s second trip into Chicago following November games at the Sears Centre just outside Chicago in suburban Hoffman Estates.
With second-year assistant coach Daniyal Robinson digging into the Chicago area for players, playing in front of them is a very good thing. Don’t forget freshman guard Chris Colvin, a Robinson recruit, won an Illinois state title in March for Whitney Young High School.
“It can do nothing but help recruiting,” McDermott said.
An increased profile? Check. Iowa State hasn’t been a national name since March of 2005, when the Cyclones reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team could make the program relevant again outside the state and Big 12 circles.
Forward Craig Brackins is sure to be a Wooden Award candidate and probably a preseason All-American. He’s a star and ISU should promote him accordingly.
Add some buzz to the season? Check. Especially for those who like road trips or alums that live around Chicago, which there apparently are many. Close to 10,000, in fact.
Iowa State and Duke have never played one another.
“The Cyclone alumni base in Chicago is our second largest and we expect a big turnout,” Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said.
Can Iowa State beat the Blue Devils, one of college basketball’s elite programs of the last 30 years?
Duke went 30-7 a season ago, won the ACC tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. They lose star player Gerald Henderson, who Thursday will became a first-round NBA Draft pick, but still return a lot.
They add a pair of blue-chippers in big men Ryan Kelly (6-10) and Mason Plumlee (6-11), who figure to be in the rotation by the time Duke and Iowa State square off.
“They’ve got very good players,” McDermott said.
Win or lose, Iowa State is coming out ahead.
The better question is, will Dick (or as some like to tag him, Duke) Vitale finally call an ISU game?