Iowa State Brings Hilton South Magic To The Big 12 Tournament

Written By Russ Mitchell on March 9, 2022 - Last Updated on July 22, 2022
Big 12 Tournament 2022

If Iowa State’s regular-season finale at Baylor was the frying pan, this week’s Big 12 Tournament might be the fire.

The Cyclones open play with a quarterfinal vs. Texas Tech on Thursday. The game tips off at about 8:30 p.m. at the T-Mobile Center. ESPN2 has the game for folks who don’t converge on Kansas City.

Traveling cardinal-and-gold supporters tend to make quite a difference. Fans in Iowa call the venue “Hilton South” because the devoted fanbase often makes the neutral court feel like Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

Iowa State’s path to the championship might require three wins over three AP Poll top 15 teams in three days, however:

  • We mentioned the No. 14 Red Raiders as Thursday’s opponent.
  • The No. 3 Baylor Bears are the possible semifinal opponent at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
  • And, the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks might be lurking for Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game.

That gauntlet leaves sportsbooks in Iowa a little skeptical about Iowa State’s title chances in Kansas City.

Big 12 Tournament odds

Does Iowa State need a win for March Madness?

The NCAA Selection Committee won’t like Iowa State’s 7-11 conference mark, but the win column includes victories over ranked Texas Tech and Texas squads, plus gritty road wins at TCU and at Kansas State.

It’s really the 13-0 non-conference season that gives Iowa State its cushion ahead of the Big 12 Tournament, however.

Iowa State’s wins over Xavier and Memphis to claim the NIT Season Tip-Off championship are huge. So is a road win over Creighton and a home win over Iowa.

Bracket experts like ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and a stampede of bracket experts and hobbyists generally have the Cyclones in an 8-9 game but you’ll even find some seven-seed projections out there. Any bracket discussions are remarkable because Iowa State won only two games a season ago.

Lunardi talked with PlayIA about seedings for Iowa and Iowa State. Both teams were seven seeds in his brackets at the time:

“I guess worst-case scenario would be for Iowa State because they have a losing record in the league and have probably been overachieving all year. I don’t want to take anything away from what they’ve done. But obviously, this was not the expectation. Could they fall to a 10? Yes. Could they fall all the way to Dayton [home of the “First Four” play-in games]? No.”

So, a neutral-site loss to a top 15 team like Texas Tech in the Big 12 quarterfinal shouldn’t put the Cyclones in much danger. The last at-large teams in usually get an 11 or a 12 seed. Therefore, Iowa State should be able to avoid the NIT and even — as Lunardi said — the First Four in Dayton.

Big 12 Tournament schedule

Iowa State-Texas Tech is the fourth and final quarterfinal Thursday. Sportsbooks like DraftKings IA should have Iowa State individual game odds up soon.

Normally a pair of games open the Big 12 Tournament on the Wednesday before Selection Sunday. Wednesday features just one game this year because Oklahoma State is not eligible for the conference or NCAA Tournament due to program violations.

Wednesday

  • 6 p.m. — (8) Kansas State vs. (9) West Virginia (ESPNU)

Thursday

  • 11:30 a.m. — (4) Texas vs. (5) TCU (ESPN2)
  • 2 p.m. — (1) Kansas vs. Kansas State/West Virginia (ESPN)
  • 6 p.m. — (2) Baylor vs. (7) Oklahoma (ESPN)
  • 8 p.m. — (3) Texas Tech vs. (6) Iowa State (ESPN2)

Semifinals are 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN2. The championship game is at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

Photo by Charlie Neibergall / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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