Selection Sunday: Iowa State draws 11 seed, first-round matchup with LSU

Travis Hines
Des Moines Register

AMES — The Cyclones are back in the Big Dance.

Iowa State is an 11 seed and will face No. 6 LSU in the Midwest Region, it was announced Sunday.

The game will be played Friday, March 18, in Milwaukee, Wis. Tip times and broadcast information will be announced later Sunday.

LSU will play the game without its head coach as Will Wade, who was fired over the weekend after he was accused of a number of Level I NCAA violations. The Tigers are 22-11 on the year.

No. 3 Wisconsin likely awaits the winner on Sunday.

The Cyclones are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 after going 20-12 this season. It was a herculean effort from first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger, his staff and their players for an immediate rebuild of a program that bottomed out last year with a 2-22 campaign.

Iowa State set a school record for consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with six stretching from 2012 to 2017. The first three under coach Fred Hoiberg and the second three under coach Steve Prohm, and both coaches reached one Sweet 16.

The program, though, floundered in the last four years under Prohm, making just one NCAA tournament (and getting upset in the first round) while finishing ninth in the Big 12 once and last twice, including the 0-18 campaign last year that resulted in Prohm's firing. 

Otzelberger took over for Prohm in March, and he immediately remade the roster almost entirely of transfers along with true freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter. The roster situation was further complicated when three scholarships players - Javan Johnson, Blake Hinson and Xavier Foster - left the program in the fall before the season started.

Still, the Cyclones proved to be one of the biggest surprises in the country by winning their first 12 games of the season and reaching as high as No. 8 in the Top 25 rankings.

Iowa State found tougher sledding in the Big 12, getting off to a 3-9 start, but a four-game winning streak in what is considered the best league in the country gave Iowa State eight Quadrant I total victories, more than enough to secure a bid.

Sunday completed one of the more dramatic turnarounds nationally with Iowa State and Otzelberger years ahead of the normal timeline for getting a program at its nadir back on to the sport's biggest stage.

Travis Hines covers Iowa State University sports for the Des Moines Register and Ames Tribune. Contact him at or  (515) 284-8000. Follow him at @TravisHines21.