Iowa State is not yet a lock for the NCAA tournament, not when they have an RPI in the 50s, exactly one road win in the top 200, and a trip to West Virginia before a date with Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
As entertaining as the Cyclones are to watch and as dangerous as they can be when their threes get to dropping, Iowa State is no better than its profile. And while its profile says right now is that they did bupkis in the non-conference and lost to Texas Tech and Texas on the road in league play.
The good news?
After beating No. 13 Oklahoma State 87-76 in Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday night, Fred Hoiberg’s club has finally earned themselves some breathing room. They now can claim wins over three teams in the top 30 in the RPI — the Pokes, Kansas State and Oklahoma — and six total wins against the top 100. They’re not out of the woods yet, but given the fact that there are teams on the bubble right now who have no quality wins, Iowa State should feel pretty good about themselves. I wouldn’t recommend losing the last two games, but they might be able to survive it.
As far as Oklahoma State is concerned, there isn’t anything to worry about. They lost their shot at earning a share of the Big 12 title with a win over Kansas State on Saturday, but they did so by losing in a building that everyone loses in.
Oklahoma State isn’t going to win many games on the nights that Markel Brown, Marcus Smart and Phil Forte shoot a combined 14-44, and they aren’t going to shoot a combined 14-44 too often.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.