by Austin Ritter
Many students, like me, fill out a bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament and follow these games over spring break. Many students, again like me, have recently had their brackets absolutely destroyed beyond recognition until the only thing that they are good for is becoming a heavily time-invested piece of kindling. The great yet terrible thing about the “March madness” NCAA tournament is that it is indeed madness, with 5 seeds falling to 12 seeds and 2 seeds falling to 15 seeds and so on. The incredible thing this year for the state of Iowa? Up until Sunday all three of Iowa’s tournament teams were still in the tournament, and now Iowa State is the only one left standing.
From the beginning of the season, it looked like it was going to be interesting for all three major Iowa teams. With all three teams having high hopes for the year (and all three teams having a penchant for beating each other) it was shaping up to be a scrum of an in state rivalry. As an Iowa State fan, this was summed up by an incredible comeback to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes which was then followed by a heartbreaking loss to the Northern Iowa Panthers. This sort of pattern can’t be said to be exactly surprising for any of the major Iowa schools. While each school had its ups and downs over the season, each of these programs had their own shining moment of glory when each of them took down a number one ranked team. Each team showed its potential to defeat teams that should have been unreachable. This seemed, in my opinion, to bode well for when the tournament came around.
The boding didn’t go so well for the Hawkeyes and the Panthers. Yes, they both won in the first round, joining Iowa State and giving the state of Iowa a good reason to be proud. Yes, the Panthers had an amazing win in that round. But, for all that, the Hawks couldn’t keep it going and the Panthers lost a heart-wrenching double-overtime game. Iowa State, on the other hand (knock on wood), has survived to join the teams in the Sweet Sixteen. For those of you who don’t know, the previous two seasons the Cyclones were the Big 12 tournament champs, only to lose prematurely in the NCAA tournament. This may be my imagination, but it seemed to me that for the first two rounds of play Iowa State fans were collectively holding their breath, and then with a second controlling win in the tournament we could finally breathe easy. We were past those darned first two rounds. And I mean, c’mon how can’t we keep moving on with moves like Jameel McKay displays?
The state of Iowa has a right to be proud and supportive of all her team’s accomplishments this year. When it comes to the tournament, however, I am proud to say that it seems to be Iowa State’s year to have a shot at winning big. I believe that they have shown that they can, and I believe that they will. Go ‘Clones!