Head coach T.J. Otzelberger has simple expectations for his first Iowa State basketball team.
"It may not always be pretty," he told the Des Moines Register. "It needs to be scrappy. It needs to be competitive. We need to be flying around and then see what happens."
So far, what's happened has been mostly good. The Cyclones take a 3-0 record into Sunday's game against visiting Grambling State (0-3) in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State is coming off a 68-60 win Tuesday against Alabama State. Given that the Hornets are ranked No. 336 in Division I by Ken Pomeroy's metrics -- there are 353 programs -- one might infer that Iowa State could have trouble reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Then again, no one thought Oregon State was headed for the Elite Eight last season after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12. Those same Beavers played last weekend at Iowa State and went home with a 60-50 loss.
What is forecast to happen in November doesn't always occur in March. And if the Cyclones continue to do things such as hold opponents to 61 points per game and get a double-double nightly out of Izaiah Brockington (17.0 points, 10.3 rebounds per game), then maybe Otzelberger can get them to surpass expectations.
As for Grambling, it hasn't played since an 86-61 loss Monday night at New Mexico. Like most Southwestern Athletic Conference programs, the Tigers are playing most of their nonconference schedule on the road in order to make some extra money for the athletic department.
They have already lost at Texas Tech and will fit in trips to UConn and TCU before Christmas.
"We are excited about the many tests our schedule presents," coach Donte' Jackson said. "We're playing an extremely competitive nonconference schedule with several Power 6 teams."
Danya Kingsby is averaging 15.3 points per game to pace Grambling, which is scoring only 58.7 per game so far while averaging 21.3 turnovers per game.
This will be the first matchup between the programs.
--Field Level Media