Iowa State is one of the most entertaining teams in the country to watch play.
They have athletes up and down their lineup, they spread the floor offensively, every player on the floor as the green-light when it comes to firing up a three, and they’d rather run to offense than play much defense.
The result is what you saw last night against Kansas: uptempo, high-scoring basketball games.
And if the only two games you’ve watched the Cyclones play this season were their two games against the Jayhawks, you probably would think that Iowa State is pretty safe as a tournament team.
But you’d be wrong.
The Cyclones lost to Texas Tech on the road this season. They also lost at Texas. And at Iowa. In fact, before Iowa State beat Baylor in Waco last Wednesday, the Cyclone’s only two true road wins were at TCU and at UMKC. That’s why they are still on the bubble. The two top 50 wins and the five top 100 wins are nice and, for the most part, better than some other bubble teams. But their struggles on the road — and those two horrendous losses to Texas teams — are like a spaghetti stain on an all-white button down.
That’s why Monday’s 108-96 overtime loss is going to hurt so much. That’s why the Cyclones are going to regret losing to Kansas in overtime in Lawrence back in January. Either one of those wins would have all but locked up ISU’s bid. And while Dave Ommen still has the Cyclones on the right side of the bubble in his latest bracket projections, they are anything but safe.
To make matters worse, last night’s game may have been a different story if it wasn’t for some questionable officiating down the stretch.
With less than ten seconds remaining, Elijah Johnson drove the lane and committed what looked like a charge on a layup attempt. Now whistle was blown on the play until Johnson was given a pair of free throws on a questionable foul while fighting for a loose ball:
To make matters worse, the guy that kept the offensive rebound alive, Jeff Withey, shouldn’t have even been on the floor. After Johnson hit a three to cut ISU’s lead to 87-85 with 30 seconds left, Withey fouled Korie Lucious in the back court. The foul would have been Withey’s fifth, but it was given to Kevin Young.
So not only did the refs miss a charge and then give Kansas two free throws they likely didn’t deserve, those free throws came as a direct result of the refs blatantly missing the fifth foul on Withey.
That’s a tough way to lose.
Especially when their first loss to Kansas was the result of a banked-in three.
Hopefully, that doesn’t cost ISU a trip to the tournament.
Because they are dangerous enough to put together a run to the Sweet 16 if their threes start falling.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.