Lots of Skins on the Wall

The Cyclones return from Hawaii a tournament champion. Through one third of the season, they're undefeated, and they've got plenty of good wins to brag about. How much better can it get?

The Cyclones won on Christmas to improve to 11-0, the best start in school history. And they're Diamond Head champs, and they've got some nice momentum rolling, and they got some great sun this week.

But more important than any of that is Iowa State's resume as the calendar flips to 2014. It feels early, but the season's already a third of the way over, and the Cyclones — after dispatching Boise State on Wednesday, 70- 66 — have a war room wall littered with big-time skins on the wall.

You know about Michigan, BYU and Iowa. But what of Boise State, which entered the game No. 25 in RealTeamRPI.com's rankings and No. 54 according to kenpom.com.

And Akron? The No. 85 team per both kenpom and RPI.

A win over George Mason looks better on paper than it does in the computer, but even the Patriots are No. 176 in RPI and No. 142 per kenpom.

The Cyclones have one gimme left, Christmas Eve against Northern Illinois, and then a very tough Big 12 conference waits. The worst team in the league, kenpom No. 191 TCU, is one of the lousiest AQ teams in the nation, but other than that, it's a bear of a schedule.

That slate — twice against kenpom No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Kansas, No. 36 Baylor — plus four very impressive nonconference wins and a handful of respectable ones, will give the Cyclones a shot at a very, very good seed come March.

Of course, they'll still have to get through the conference alive, but so far the Cyclones have proven they can handle competition pretty well.

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