It sounds blasphemous to say that this loaded Oklahoma State team that began the season ranked 8th might not make the NCAA tournament, but with only one game remaining for the Cowboys, this nightmare is very much a reality. This, to me, makes Oklahoma State the team with the most to lose Saturday in Ames.
The Cowboys have been on a wild ride this season that began with National Championship aspirations. After a 15-2 start, they ran into some turbulence during a one month period in January and February where they lost 8-of-9 games, three of which came during the Marcus Smart suspension. The last two weeks have been a completely different story, as the Smart led Cowboys have won their last four games, including an upset win over the 5th ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
But after winning four straight games, why is Saturday’s battle with 16th ranked Iowa State a must win for Travis Ford’s resilient squad? To put it simply, a punched ticket to the big dance is on the line. When a team goes on a stretch losing 8-of-9 games in the last six weeks of the season, it complicates their tournament résumé a bit.
The Cowboys are now becoming college basketball’s resilient team on a warpath with something to prove. After two 20-point blowouts over Texas Tech and TCU, a win over the powerhouse Jayhawks, and cruising past a very talented Kansas State team, Oklahoma State looks like one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they still need more to solidify a NCAA tournament birth and leaving James H. Hilton Coliseum with a win Saturday over Iowa State will assure the Cowboys some good news on Selection Sunday.