I would be lying if I said that this was the toughest stretch of games Iowa State is going to face this season. It's not. That honor goes to the 4 game stretch in February where the Cyclones go to Kansas, go to Texas A&M, come home to Missouri, then go to Texas. I know I keep saying "we are going to find out what this team is all about", but I honestly believe that how Iowa State fares in these next two is going to tell us what the possibilites for this team are.
In my heart of hearts, I want to see Iowa State make the NIT. I want Diante Garrett and Jamie Vanderbeken to play in some kind of a postseason. They had to endure such crappy years, it would be a nice reward for a good career at Iowa State. I want it for the fans too. People that follow the program closely, people like you and me, know that 2012 has the potential to be a march to the NCAA tournament. Unfortunatley, Mr. Joe Schmo does not. Having Iowa State get to the NIT, would fire up the fanbase and build up the excitement for the following year. It would do so much for the program to make it.
Selection committees are going to look at Iowa State's weak nonconference SOS. They need to make some noise in the Big 12. Something that selection committees do value is a team's ability to go on the road, and beat opponents of equal (or greater) ability. Oklahoma State in my opinion is going to the NIT at least this year. I also believe that Iowa State and Oklahoma State are of similar caliber this year. Getting the win tomorrow would be big for this team.
Bottom line: Iowa State needs a road win or two in the Big 12 this year, and this week gives them an opportunity to get one. If Iowa State can go 1-1 this week, there is no reason why any fan should not be optimistic about the rest of the season. On the flip side, if the team does end up 0-2, all is not lost. If Iowa State simply needs to defend their homecourt the rest of the way. There is not a remaining home game that is not winnable for this team. If they can do that, and sneak a road win somewhere between K-State and Colorado, they'd be on track for the NIT.
Iowa State tips off tomorrow night against Oklahoma State at 8pm CST on ESPNU. It is a big game, but I am already fired up for it! Isn't it fun to have "big weeks" that you are excited about again?