College Basketball Insider

Put Iowa State back on the right side of the bubble, please

Fred Hoiberg is looking prime for a second straight tourney appearance, provided no more bad losses come. (USATSI)

Jerry Palm had Iowa State out of the Field of 68 on Wednesday morning.

But the Cyclones will be in when he updates, I assure you.

That's the result of Wednesday's 87-76 victory over 13th-ranked Oklahoma State, a win that doubles as ISU's third against a school currently ranked in the top 25 of the RPI. Is that great? No, it's not great -- especially considering Iowa State is still just 3-7 against the top 50. But this victory snapped the Cyclones' two-game losing streak, assured them of finishing with a winning record in the Big 12 and should prove to the selection committee once and for all that Fred Hoiberg's team is capable of beating quality opponents.

And how about Fred Hoiberg?

Has he turned into a super hire or what?

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I was skeptical when Hoiberg was hired, I admit, because he'd never been a coach at any level. The move seemed rooted in desperation and little more than a cheap ploy to get fans excited about an all-time great returning to campus -- like if UNLV hired Larry Johnson or something. But Hoiberg kept assistant T.J. Otzelberger on staff, and Otzelberger kept securing under-the-radar prospects. Together, Hoiberg and his assistants stocked talent. And though some probably thought last year's trip to the NCAA tournament had more to do with the greatness of Royce White than anything else (and, honestly, it might've), it's hard to dismiss a coach who makes consecutive Fields of 68 with totally different cores.

That's what Hoiberg is on track to do.

ISU didn't just lose White from last season, you know?

The Cyclones lost Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen, too.

So Hoiberg entered this season without his top three scorers -- a trio of guys who combined to average 38.2 points, 14.6 rebounds and 9.6 assists last season; that's a lot to replace. And yet here Hoiberg is, back in position to again make the NCAA tournament while proving he's worthy of being called one of the nation's top young coaches.

 
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