Updated: February 25, 2013, 9:02 am ET
Iowa State’s NCAA resume needs a boost
by Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
Days until Selection Sunday: 20
Monday’s slate is sparse, with only four games involving projected NCAA tournament teams.
One, though, presents a massive opportunity for Iowa State.
Under former Cyclones star Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State reached the NCAA tournament last year and remains in contention this year. Alas, the man dubbed the Mayor has not done much to extend his rule beyond the city limits of Ames.
Iowa State can’t solve its road-court shortcomings (3-7) on Monday, but it can collect its biggest victory of the season when Kansas pays a visit to Hilton Coliseum. A triumph would even the Cyclones’ record against top-100 teams (6-6) and give them wins in back-to-back seasons against the Jayhawks for the first time in eight years.
Oh, and it would provide Iowa State a much-needed cushion entering the final three weeks of the season.
The Cyclones could still play their way out of the field of 68 even if they beat Kansas, but it would take a much more substantial collapse than would otherwise be the case. That gives them as much to gain as anyone in Monday’s action.
Best Bet: Just two days after seeing their 38-game home winning streak come to an end, the Syracuse Orange will try to snap someone else’s lengthy home streak when they visit Marquette (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Golden Eagles have won 23 in a row at home, but are coming off a Saturday loss themselves at Villanova. Marquette and the Orange are now in a three-way battle for second place in the Big East with Louisville, and the loser of this showdown in Milwaukee will take a step back toward the pack, which could mean missing a top-four slot and valuable bye into the conference tournament quarterfinals. Marquette scoring leader Vander Blue, who missed 6-of-8 shots Saturday, must rediscover his range quickly to solve the Syracuse match-up defense. The Orange could also use better perimeter accuracy from Brandon Triche, who was 1-for-7 from three-point range against Georgetown.
Number of the day: 500. Kansas coach Bill Self goes for his 500th career victory tonight. It doesn’t figure to come easily … [For more on Bubble Watch: Iowa State's road-challenged NCAA resume needs a boost, click here.]
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