Baylor won Saturday’s showdown with Iowa State and proved worthy of its No. 1 ranking while doing it. Scott Drew’s Bears are clearly great once again. But it should be noted that the Cyclones also looked the part even in defeat. They competed well for 40 minutes against the reigning national champions before falling 77-72, and if it’s possible for a coach to be encouraged after a loss, Iowa State’s T.J. Otzelberger should’ve been.
He has a legitimately good team.
Baylor had previously blown out both Michigan State and Villanova — two monster programs with Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coaches. But the Bears were never quite able to pull completely away from Iowa State, which is now 12-1 through the first 13 games of Otzelberger’s tenure.
“I felt like the competitive spirit was certainly there for 40 minutes,” Otzelberger told reporters after the loss, which was the first game in a six-game stretch that, on paper, is very challenging.
Here are Iowa State’s next five games:
- Wednesday: vs. Texas Tech
- Saturday: at Oklahoma
- January 11: at Kansas
- January 15: vs. Texas
- January 18: at Texas Tech
If you count the Baylor game, Iowa State is now in a six-game stretch featuring five contests against schools included in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. KenPom.com projects the Cyclones to be underdogs in each of their next five games. That suggests Iowa State could face some adversity and stack losses. But, remember, the Cyclones have already won four games this season as underdogs. So it would be wise to assume they’ll be competitive in most of these upcoming games — and probably win some of them too.
Iowa State is No. 10 in Sunday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Baylor obviously remains No. 1. The Bears are currently projected as favorites in each of their next nine games — among them a January 18 game at West Virginia and a January 29 game at Alabama.