By Rob Gray
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State likely will not help, nor hurt its NCAA Tournament seeding much regardless of how long a run it completes at the Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi said during a conference call today he currently has the 16th-ranked Cyclones as the last No. 3 seed for next week's NCAA Tournament.
It's a fairly stable position, he added one day before ISU (23-7) took the court for Thursday's 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal matchup with Kansas State (20-11).
"If they lose, they'll probably be a four, at worst a high five, and really, what's the difference between a four and a five?" Lunardi said.
And if the Cyclones win the Big 12 postseason title for the first time since 2000?
A No. 3 seed appears to be the ceiling.
"I don't think they can get up to be a two — outside chance of that," Lunardi said. "They're going to be in the three to five range."
Lunardi also said its doubtful at best that ISU could manage to end up very close to home for early round tournament games.
"That's not going to happen because there's too many teams ahead of them if St. Louis is the preferred spot — mainly Wichita State and Kansas, and there can be two one through fours in any subregional," Lunardi said. "As my dad used to say when he was looking at a map, 'You can't get there from here.'"
The Cyclones can, however, build positive momentum for the NCAAs, whatever their seed ends up being.
All it takes is three wins in three days in what ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg predicted would "as exciting a Big 12 tournament as there's ever been.""This is what it's all about," Hoiberg said today after a quick practice. "Everything we've done to this point is preparation for what we're going through now and that's an opportunity to win a Big 12 championship and then hopefully compete for an NCAA championship."