The Iowa State turnaround story will have another chapter after they were selected for March Madness on Sunday night. The No. 11 seeded Cyclones (20-12) face No. 6 seed LSU (22-11) in the Midwest Region.
TBS has the 6:20 p.m. game Friday. The Tigers opened as a 4.5-point favorite over Iowa State.
The Selection Committee gave the Cyclones a favorable placement for its opener. Expect a Cardinal-and-Gold caravan because first- and second-round games unfold in nearby Milwaukee.
Iowa State will need the regional help because No. 6 seeds have a 90-54 record against No. 11 seeds since the field expanded to the 64-team bracket (plus the Dayton First Fours).
NCAA Selection Committee members gave Iowa State a Friday assignment. The Iowa State-LSU winner will face the No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 14 Colgate winner on Sunday. The Badgers earned the advantage of playing in their home state for the first two rounds.
Kansas is the top seed in the Midwest bracket as a potential Elite Eight opponent. Auburn is the No. 2 seed and looms as a Sweet 16 opponent should Iowa State make a surprising run.
What to know about LSU
LSU finished in a five-way tie for fifth in the SEC with a 9-9 conference record. In the SEC Tournament the Tigers:
- Earned the fifth seed through tiebreakers.
- Opened with a 76-68 win over No. 12 seed Missouri on Thursday.
- Lost a 79-67 quarterfinal to No. 4 seed Arkansas on Friday.
The Tigers and Cyclones both aced their non-conference schedule, which allowed both teams to climb into the AP top 25. LSU’s only blemish on in their 12-1 non-conference slate was a 77-68 loss at TCU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Coaches that guide their teams to a No. 6 seed don’t tend to get fired, but LSU will face Iowa State in the shadow of a coaching change. LSU President William F. Tate IV and Athletics Director Scott Woodward announced on Friday that coach Will Wade and associate head coach Bill Armstrong were “terminated for cause.”
The LSU program is under investigation for improper player benefits. Some evidence came from a wiretap, where Wade was heard reportedly pitching the merits of an under-the-table offer to a recruit. Assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry will guide LSU through March Madness.
Two forwards lead the Tigers in scoring — sophomore Tari Eason averages 16.9 ppg followed by senior Darius Days at 13.7 ppg. Guards Brandon Murray and Xavier Pinson each average 10.1 ppg.
What to know about Iowa State
The week off between Iowa State’s Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal loss and the NCAA first-round game might do the Cyclones some good.
No. 14 Texas Tech barbequed Iowa State 72-41 in Kansas City. The Red Raiders shot 50% from the field, while Iowa State struggled at a .313 clip. Twenty turnovers kept Iowa State from setting the half-court defense that has served them well over the course of the season.
Iowa State wrapped up one of the nation’s best turnarounds under first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger, however. The Cyclones swept their 13 non-conference games, which played a huge role in securing an at-large bid. The conference record was a scratchy 7-11 and the early tournament exit pushed them toward the bubble a bit.
It was a close call. They were one of the last two teams — along with Michigan — to avoid the First Four round in Dayton. That also means the Cyclones were one of the last six teams to receive an at-large bid.