Hoops kicks off busy stretch at Hilton

It’s going to be a busy week and a great next paycheck for Hilton Coliseum staffers.

There are events happening in the arena every day this week across three different sports. Throw in Iowa State’s women’s and men’s basketball games next Thursday and Friday against Iowa and the turnstiles are going to get a workout. So are the folks cleaning up popcorn.

Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday night — Women’s basketball vs. Mississippi Valley State.

ISU (3-1) won two last weekend at a tournament in Chicago and plays nine of its next 10 at home. It’s an important stretch for this young team still figuring out which players it can trust and when. Coach Bill Fennelly is playing several different combinations, which includes four true freshmen.

“We may be talking about the same thing in March,” Fennelly said. “We are going to keep playing 10 kids and see who we can count on,” he said.

Wednesday night — Men’s basketball vs. Northern Iowa.

The Panthers were the best team in the state last season, reaching the NCAA Tournament by winning both the regular season and conference tournament championships. ISU may be the best of the Big Four this year.

That distinction goes through Cedar Falls.

“They were a good team last year and they didn’t really lose anybody,” said Cyclone forward Craig Brackins.

Thursday afternoon/night — NCAA volleyball practices and media obligations for host Iowa State and George Mason, Saint Louis and Wichita State. ISU hasn’t hosted a postseason volleyball match since the mid-1990s.

Friday night — NCAA volleyball: Saint Louis vs. Wichita State 5 p.m., ISU vs. George Mason 7:30 p.m.

Saturday — NCAA volleyball: Friday night’s winners meet at 6:30. If the Cyclones can beat GMU on Friday they’ll play for their third straight Sweet 16 appearance. That’s simply amazing considering where the program was at earlier on this decade.

Sunday — Wrestling vs. Iowa. New ISU coach Kevin Jackson has been pointing to this one since the day he was hired. The Cyclones haven’t come out on top in the Cy-Hawk Series since the 2004-05 season.  The curtain is being lifted at Hilton to accomodate what is expected to be a huge crowd for Jackson’s first big meet. It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2. Doesn’t get any bigger than this in the sport of wrestling.

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