The Iowa State Cyclones will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance under coach T.J. Otzelberger next week after the program’s huge one-season turnaround.
The No. 11-seeded Cyclones (20-12) will face No. 6-seeded LSU in the first round as part of action in the Midwest Region that begins on Friday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Cyclones will be making their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance, but their first under Otzelberger, who took over the program from Steve Prohm last March.
Otzelberger, who served as an assistant for three different Iowa State head coaches, inherited a team coming off a two-win season and decimated by transfers. Otzelberger rebuilt the program with transfers and a defensive mindset that led to the biggest turnaround in the Big 12 this season.
The Cyclones won 18 more games from last season to this season. After beating two ranked teams, Xavier and Memphis, in the NIT Season Tip-off on Thanksgiving weekend, the Cyclones crashed the Top 25 and rose to as high as No. 8 before falling out of the poll late in the season after the attrition of Big 12 play.
Still, the Cyclones enter the NCAA Tournament with a great resume that includes nine Quad 1 wins, tied for ninth in the country. The Cyclones are led by guard Izaiah Brockington, who was on both the Heartland College Sports and Big 12 Coaches first teams. He was also the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
Iowa State lost in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament to Texas Tech. Iowa State hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since it beat Nevada in 2017 and hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2016.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.