As Iowa State packed for their trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off, they were a team in complete disarray.
The Cyclones were 0-2, having been drubbed by Michael Porter Jr.-less Missouri in Columbia and, more embarrassingly, taken an 18-point home loss against a Milwaukee program that would lose to a Division II program at home in their next game.
That is not exactly an ideal start to the season, but things sure did turn around in South Cackalacky. Iowa State knocked off Appalachian State, Tulsa and Boise State on successive days to take home the Tip-Off tournament title and completely change their season.
The difference, it seems, came in the form of moving Nick Weiler-Babb from off-guard to point guard, and he made Iowa State fans totally forget about Monte’ Morris. In the three games, he averaged 17.7 points, 9.3 assists and 8.7 rebound, while Donovan Jackson, who scored 10 total points in the first two games of the year, finished averaged 25.3 points during the event and didn’t score fewer than 24 points on any given night.
I’m still not convinced that Iowa State is anything more than the worst team in the Big 12 not named Oklahoma State, but they sure made it hard to stick to that take.
THEY WERE GOOD, TOO
- Texas Tech: The Red Raiders absolutely pasted Northwestern in the final of the Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Classic, winning by 36 points and looking every bit the part of a top 25 team that can make a run at that No. 2 spot in the Big 12 pecking order. Keenan Evans is a name you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with.
- Duke: The Blue Devils proved themselves the best team in the country with a win over Michigan State in the Champions Classic despite playing without Marvin Bagley III for the majority of the game.
- Colorado: The Buffaloes were bailed out by a buzzer-beater that hit the rim and the backboard before rattling through in their Paradise Jam opener against Quinnipiac, but by the end of the week, they had moved to 5-0 on the season with a tournament title to their name.
- Temple: Temple did not play a regular season game before they arrived in South Carolina for the Charleston Classic, but they returned to North Philly with a title in hand. The Owls looked like they might actually be an NCAA tournament team this season as they knocked off Old Dominion, Auburn and Clemson to take home the title.
- Xavier: The Musketeers landed themselves what might be the Big East’s best non-conference win, as they went into the Kohl Center and knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers in an absolute thriller on Thursday night. Trevon Bluiett was fantastic, J.P. Macura trolled an entire state and Chris Mack’s club returned to Cincinnati looking like they might be a real contender to Villanova this season.