Iowa State receives third seed in Midwest
AMES - A TV commentator said Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly should be the happiest coach in America.
The Cyclones received the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament's Midwest region and will host 14th-seeded Temple in the first round on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.
Fennelly was happy that his team was invited to play in the tournament for the sixth-straight year. He also was happy his team will host first and second-round games for the fifth-straight year.
But he wasn't happy with the draw.
"I don't think anybody can argue the fact the Midwest Region is going to be the toughest," Fennelly said. "From start to finish, there isn't anybody that's got as tough of a draw as we do."
Sixth-seeded and 21st-ranked Florida and 11th-seeded Brigham Young also will play in Ames on Saturday.
Other teams in the Midwest Region include Southeastern Conference powers Vanderbilt and Tennessee, who are ranked fifth and sixth and seeded first and second, respectively, as well as 18th-ranked and fourth-seeded North Carolina and 22nd-ranked and fifth-seeded Minnesota.
Former Purdue coach Nell Fortner made the comment about Fennelly being the happiest coach in America during the nationally televised selection show on ESPN.
"I don't know what Nell Fortner is smoking," Fennelly said. "You look at those regional pairings. Our first-round game, we get the Atlantic-10 champion. If we win that, we get an SEC team or the Mountain West champion. If you get past that, you got Vanderbilt and Tennessee. And North Carolina, they may be as athletic as any team in the country."
Fennelly said he expected the Cyclones would have a tough tournament draw because if Iowa State wins its first two games, the Cyclones will get to play at home again.
"They're not going to give us a cakewalk to San Antonio," ISU senior center Angie Welle said. "We're just glad we're at home for the first round."
Senior guard Tracy Gahan hopes the home court advantage will give the Cyclones the edge.
"With the teams coming in here, we're going to have to be at our very best to take advantage of it," she said.
The Cyclones were one of seven Big 12 Conference teams to be invited to the tournament, and all seven will host first and second-round games. Other Big 12 qualifiers include Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State, Colorado, Texas and Texas Tech.