Let’s give a warm welcome back to basketball in Iowa

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By Chris Hassel

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a winter like this (and I’m not talking about the weather). Basketball is finally back, and it feels great. Iowa State is on the verge of breaking into the top-25 for the first time in over 6 years. Meanwhile, Iowa is on the verge of getting back to .500 in the Big Ten.

ISU beat Oklahoma, 77-70. Courtesy AP

Let’s start with Iowa State. 

Royce White took one shot against Oklahoma, and it was the shot that sealed the win. Actually, it wasn’t a shot at all. It was a dunk. The Cyclones beat Oklahoma, 77-70, despite the fact that White scored only 3 points. That may be the most surprising stat of the game, but it wasn’t the only crazy stat. Here are a few more:
– Iowa State hit 10 three-pointers in the 1st-half, while making only 3 two-point field goals
– The Cyclones won a game in Oklahoma for the first time since they were members of the Big 8 (and Fred Hoiberg was a freshman with the Pacers)
– ISU has its 3rd Big 12 road win. The most since 2004-05.
– The Clones are 7-3 through their first 10 conference games for the first time since winning the Big 12 title in 2000-01.

At 17-6 overall, the Cyclones are not only closing in on a tournament bid, they’re improving their seed with every win. On Tuesday they’re at Oklahoma State before coming home for Texas A&M next Saturday.

Onto the Hawkeyes.

As the team honored its past, fans got another glimpse of Iowa’s promising future. The Hawkeyes blasted Penn State from the tip in front of the 1986-87 Elite 8 team. The Hawks are now 5-6 in the Big Ten with a very manageable schedule down the stretch. With one more against Penn State and Nebraska, and two games against NW remaining, there’s a chance Iowa could finish 9-9 in conference. That would be incredible for a team that hadn’t won more than 6 games in any conference season since Steve Alford was in town. If the Hawks play well down the stretch, this team will be playing some post-season basketball.

The Hawks beat Penn State, 77-64. Courtesy dmregister.com

Northern Iowa is having the most disappointing season of any ‘Big 4’ school, but the Panthers played up to their potential today. UNI upset #13 Creighton on a last-second three by Anthony James. It was interesting to watch Ben Jacobson as the shot went in and the clock ran out. He jumped in the air with a huge grin on his face —- and then he turned to walk toward losing coach, and best friend, Greg McDermott. His face turned stone cold, almost as if he was embarrassed he was showing so much emotion. It’s no secret both Jacobson and McDermott hate playing against one another.

The Super Bowl is tomorrow. I’ll take the Patriots in a tight one.