Why Iowa State Is the Best College Basketball Team No One's Talking About

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 17:  DeAndre Kane #50 of the Iowa State Cyclones celebrates with fans after defeating Michigan at Hilton Coliseum on November 17, 2013 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State defeated Michigan 77-70. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
David Purdy/Getty Images

If I told you at the beginning of the season that there would be one remaining undefeated team in the Big 12 and that same team would be first in the nation in scoring, you would most likely guess either Kansas or Oklahoma State. 

If you did guess either of those preseason favorites to win the conference, you would be completely wrong.

The correct answer to that riddle is the Iowa State Cyclones, who are 7-0 and average 91.7 points per game. 

The Cyclones, coached by former NBA veteran Fred Hoiberg, have already pulled off victories against Michigan and BYU heading into their fierce rivalry showdown with Iowa on Friday night at Hilton Coliseum.

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 24:  Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Iowa State Cyclones looks on from the sideline in the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 24, 2013 in D
Jason Miller/Getty Images

One of the reasons for this early-season success is the play of stars Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane. Another reason has to do with magic, of course. 

Iowa State plays in one of the most underrated home venues in the nation in Hilton Coliseum, where it has won five of its seven games, including its victory over then-seventh-ranked Michigan back on November 17. 

The last game that the Cyclones played may have been their toughest victory yet, as another in-state schoolNorthern Iowapushed them to overtime before they came out on top 91-82. 

With one rival down, one remains with Iowa heading into Ames for the least talked-about ranked matchup of the season. 

Hoiberg and his Cyclones were bound to fly under the radar this season with Kansas and Oklahoma State receiving so much hype thanks to stars like Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart.

Even when the Jayhawks and Cowboys lose games, it is a story because of how well or awful the two superstars played. 

Most fans around the nation may not even rank Iowa State as the third-best team in the Big 12 because of Baylor's high-profile upset of Kentucky just last week. 

While that may be the perception around the nation, it truly is not the point of view that the Cyclones themselves share. 

Iowa State is a viable force to be reckoned with after going 23-13 during conference play over the last two seasons, leading to two 23-win seasons. 

The two very productive seasons in Ames have also led to NCAA tournament victories over UConn in 2012 and Notre Dame in 2013.

What I'm getting at here is that Iowa State is here to stay for the foreseeable futureespecially if Hoiberg continues to stay around and build up the program. 

This season, Hoiberg has built his team into an explosive, offensive squad that ranks first in points per game and second in assists per game in the nation.

The Cyclones feature fiveyes, fiveplayers that average over 10 points per gameled by Ejim's 18 per gameand shoot close to 50 percent from the field.

If that isn't enough to get you excited to watch Iowa State, it has also failed to score fewer than 75 points in a game this season. Moreover, the team has scored over 90 on five separate occasions. 

Based on those statistics, it is worth tuning into an Iowa State gameespecially when it challenges the top programs in the Big 12, because who doesn't love a team that scores points at will? 

No, the Cyclones will not challenge for a national championship when all is said and done in March and April, but they will be a team that creates a lot of buzz along the way.

For a program that has struggled mightily since the turn of the century, that is impressive in and of itself. 


Follow me on Twitter @JTansey90.