Tuesday, March 14, 2023

In favor of the Mid-Majors

For the record, if the NCAA tournament makes any changes, it should shift its bids away from the power conferences and towards the Mid-Majors. 

The simple reason is that the 6th or 7th team in a Power 6 conference had plenty of chances to earn Quad 1 wins, since they play in a power 6 conference.

Mid-Major teams often struggle to get more than 1 or 2 Quad 1 games on their schedules, as the Power 6 schools have little incentive to play them. (Iowa State and awa's refusal to play Drake and Northern Iowa is Exhibit A) They should be given the benefit of the doubt.

More UMBC and St. Peters, (and, yes, more Hamptons and UABs) fewer 7th place finishes getting bids. And stop sending conference champs to Dayton for the First Four. They won their league, they get a proper seed.

Play Ball.


 A wild couple of weeks of Cyclone Basketball culminated if big wins in Kansas City.

The men shook off weeks of bad chemistry to earn two solid wins over Baylor and a decent effort against Kansas. They adjusted to the removal of a key cog in their game plan, and yet returned to the form that won them games up through mid-January. Adapting to sudden change takes both knowledgeable coaching and a willingness to adjust for the better.

The women's conference season and tournament title is just as remarkable. After losing two post players in January, the offensive plan was scrapped and the team reverted to the three-driven offense that had carried them for almost 30 years. This season was one of Fennely's better coaching jobs in his tenure. 

Having the conference MVP goes a long way. It's unfortunate that the best player in the Big 12 flies under the national radar because her game is so understated. She manages to get 21 and 10 every night without a single play that ends up on SportsCenter. It's low-key impressive. 

Now on to the tournaments. Both teams have manageable seeds, and can hopefully find enough offense to get to the second weekend. Regardless of their finishes, both teams earned athletic and mental victories this year.

Game on.

Monday, February 27, 2023


 Even when the men were playing well, they were prone to scoring droughts. Every hot streak could be met with a drought. 

By our math, a 60-54 was lost when the offense could only manage 9 points over their last 13 possessions while WVU managed to stay above 1 point per possession the rest of the way. 

If the Cyclones find a couple of buckets down the stretch, they probably pull it out.

They showed great courage to come out of half time and take the lead, but the last 7 minutes displayed the vulnerability this gritty but flawed team owns. 

The arc of the season changed when Grill tweaked his back reaching for a rebound against Texas. 

The good news is that they are in the tourney, and they way they play defense will give them a puncher’s chance against anyone. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2023


 It is a bit head spinning to consider where the Cyclones are compared to two seasons ago.

With 8 games to play, Iowa State has a puncher's chance at winning the league. Wild.

They will probably need to go 7-1 or 6-2 to pull it off, but to even have a shot at a ring is fantastic.

Of the six (!) teams with a decent chance at the title, we would put our nickel on the Jayhawk's square. They have the friendliest path, and will be favored in 5 or 6 of their last 7.

Buckle up.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Where we're at

 The good news is that Iowa State is going to be in every game this year. It's just going to come down to which team makes plays in the last four minutes.

So far, ISU has been on both sides of the end, and are now 2-2 in league road games. 

Still playing with house money.

Monday, January 09, 2023

Puncher's Chance

 Outside of a disaster in Johnson County (it wasn't the Gobla's Super Bowl, nope, no way, don't even suggest it), this Cyclone team has shown that it can go round-for-round with anyone. They've found a few more options on offense, so while they are hardly aesthetically pleasing to the basketball eye, they have avoided the droughts that plagued last year's team. They can win any game in any gym.

The Big XII is all-around ridiculous this year, so we doubt any game will be more than +10 either way. The Big Brains think 8 wins is enough for the tourney- any more will only improve the seeding. Stock up on Tums and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Winding down and cranking up

The 2022 football season ended with a thud. A motivated TCU squad overwhelmed our Cyclones, but they had no choice: A 17-14 win would have opened the door for the naysayers to question whether TCU was worthy of the playoffs, and maybe we should give two-loss Alabama another look. Style points mattered. 

Now we wait on staff changes and the comings and going in the transfer portal. Movement is inevitable, and we can only hope to come out on the plus side in the end. Any improvement on the offensive line and special teams and the program is in a good place to compete. 

Few are commenting on TCU's 5-7 record last year, where they only won 3 B12 games and had several blowout losses, including 48-14 in Ames. Teams can turn quickly.

Basketball is all upside, as both teams have post players they are adapting to. Each looked good in Oregon and showed they can compete with top flight teams. Offensive continuity will be key, especially the men.

Winter should be fun, and hopefully each team has a satisfying finish.

Monday, November 21, 2022


 We now have data to confirm how large of a missed opportunity this Cyclone Football season has been, courtesy The Athletic:

From 2017-2021, teams with Top 10 in stop-rate (percentage of defensive drives that end in punts, turnovers or turnovers on downs) win at a .793 rate. Of those 50 teams, 31 won 10 or more games, 23 played for conference titles. 

Of those 50 teams, only one finished with a losing record, and in came in the COVID dominated season of 2020 when Air Force finished 3-3. 

ISU is 4-7.

Stunning. Doing unlikely things in unlikely ways. Playing literally "Exceptional Football".