While November and December has been "interesting" to say the least, January is make-or-break month for the Cyclones in my opinion. They play 9 games, including some pretty big ones against Duke, Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Not having a marquee win thus far, if this team wants to make the NCAA tournament, they will need to get some quality wins in this part of the schedule. In my opinion, if we lose to both Duke and Texas, this team will have to win 9-10 games in the Big 12 to make it in.
Let's take a look at how Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin think the Cyclones will do this month, based on how the team has played thus far:
|Houston||W by 11||W by 8|
|Duke (Neutral)||L by 17||L by 14|
|North Dakota State||W by 23||W by 21|
|Texas||L by 13||L by 9|
|@Nebraska||L by 3||L by 2|
|@Texas Tech||L by 2||L by 3|
|Kansas||L by 12||L by 8|
|@Oklahoma||W by 1||W by 1
|Colorado||W by 10||W by 9|
Although the results vary, the models pretty much conclude the same thing: January is going to be a tough month for the Cyclones. All I know is that potentially opening up the Big 12 season with 5 losses is going to kill us, but it's entirley possible. If that's the case, it's going to be virtually impossible to go 8-2 the rest of the way. It's also pretty possible that we can go 3-2 over that same stretch as well, which is doable.
While I would love for ISU to beat Duke, Texas, or Kansas, to expect that is crazy.. I've seen Texas, and think they are better than Kansas. While I am no expert, it does help to actually watch other games, something that some writers do not do.
This season isn't going to be based on beating Duke, Texas, and Kansas. It's going to be based on beating that next tier of teams like Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, etc. To go 9-7, you can lose 2 games to Kansas, 1 game to Texas, and still be in ok shape.
I am looking forward to the month though. I really hope our guys have improved in this time and the team comes together. This is the month to make a big splash, and it all starts tomorrow at 1pm.