In one week, Iowa State will begin what it hopes will be a long postseason run through the month of March that ultimately culminates in reaching the well-defined goals the team has talked about since media day last fall.
That road will begin in Kansas City. The rest is yet to be determined.
With West Virginia's win against Texas Tech on Wednesday night, Iowa State will now fare no worse than being the 6-seed, meaning the Cyclones have avoided the theoretical "play-in" game and will begin their postseason run sometime Thursday, most likely at 8 p.m. on ESPNU as the 6-seed in the tournament.
Depending on the outcome of Iowa State's season finale against Kansas on Saturday, and the outcome primarily of one other important Big 12 game — West Virginia at Baylor — the first-round opponent still varies.
Here is a look at the most likely scenarios.
If Iowa State Loses Saturday...
Iowa State will be a clear underdog Saturday when it travels to Lawrence, Kan., to face a Kansas team that has not only won 14 games in the toughest conference in America, but also one that has lost nine games at Allen Fieldhouse since Bill Self arrived in 2003. So the most obvious assumption is this: Iowa State loses Saturday, finishing its Big 12 slate at 10-8.
Another assumption: Oklahoma wins at TCU and Texas wins at Oklahoma State.
So, who does Iowa State play next Thursday in Kansas City? As is the case with both scenarios, the opponent will widely hinge on the game that preceeds Iowa State's on Saturday: West Virginia at Baylor
There are thus two scenarios if Iowa State loses and Oklahoma/Texas win as expected.
Scenario No. 1 — West Virginia beats Baylor. If the Mountaineers win, Iowa State would play 3-seeded Oklahoma on Thursday night as the No. 6 seed.
Scenario No. 2 — Baylor beats West Virginia. If the Bears win, Iowa State would play 3-seeded West Virginia on Thursday night as the No. 6 seed.
Things could shuffle, of course, if Oklahoma or Texas are upset.
If Iowa State Wins Saturday...
Here is where a number of scenarios come into play.
Iowa State certainly won't be favored Saturday, but if the Cyclones upset the Jayhawks in Lawrence, they will put themselves at 11-7, which could either tie them with Baylor or put them a game ahead depending on Saturday's results. For the purposes of this scenario, let's again assume Oklahoma wins at TCU and Texas wins at Oklahoma State.
The seeding and Game 1 opponent again comes down mainly to West Virginia at Baylor.
Scenario No. 1 — West Virginia beats Baylor. If the Mountaineers win, Iowa State would jump to the No. 4 seed, winning the tiebreaker against Texas due to their record against the No. 1 team, Kansas. Iowa State would play 5-seed Texas on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
Scenario No. 2 — Baylor beats West Virginia. If the Bears win, Iowa State stays put as the 6-seed despite the win against Kansas. The Cyclones would then play 6-seeded West Virginia on Thursday. The reason for being the 6-seed despite a three-way tie at 11-7 with Baylor and Texas? Three-way ties are handled differently, with a round-robin rather than head-to-head vs. other Big 12 teams.
So, win or lose Saturday (and assuming Texas/Oklahoma don't stumble), Iowa State's opponent in Kansas City will depend largely on the outcome of the Baylor/West Virginia game, which tips ahead of Iowa State at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN.