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Saturday, March 6, 2010
ISU spoils K-State's No. 1 hopes

By Eamonn Brennan

Hey, remember Iowa State? That team with forward Craig Brackins? The team that, before the season, seemed to have a plausible, if not probable, shot at the NCAA tournament? The team that, since starting 10-3, had lost 13 of its past 17 and gone 0-7 against teams in the AP Top 25? The 14-16 Iowa State Cyclones? Yeah, that team.

Craig Brackins
Craig Brackins scored 19 points during Iowa State's upset of Kansas State.
Remember them now. The Cyclones just took down No. 5 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., ruining the Wildcats' hopes of snagging a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed and likely saving coach Greg McDermott's job in the process.

Oh, and there's this: In beating Kansas State, the Cyclones snapped a 21-game losing streak to ranked teams, and improved -- "improved" being a relative term here -- their record to 8-104 in their past 112 games on the road against said ranked teams. Um, yeah: This was a big win.

It was likewise a big loss for Kansas State. Frank Martin's team had risen to No. 5 in the country, and with Purdue fading in the wake of the Robbie Hummel injury had positioned itself as the likely fourth No. 1 seed, at least according to Joe Lunardi's latest bracket. With today's loss, that chance is gone, and the fourth No. 1 seed is again in flux.

That seed, by the way, will almost certainly go to Duke, assuming the Blue Devils finish off the blowout they're working on against North Carolina. (The Devils are up 40-19 with 4 minutes left in the first half as of this writing.) Purdue's out; Villanova's home loss to West Virginia today certainly disqualifies them; New Mexico, Lunardi's other No. 2 seed, seems unlikely to garner a No. 1. That leaves Duke as the top overall candidate, barring, perhaps, a run to the Big East tournament title by West Virginia, or a similar performance from Ohio State in the Big Ten.

There's still time for that, though. Tonight, Iowa State will be primarily concerned with celebrating the one bright spot in what has been an otherwise brutally disappointing season. Tournament seeds -- not even in the NIT -- don't apply here. A bit of redemption, on the other hand, does.