Reviewing our women’s basketball preseason predictions


Tyler Coe

Iowa State players pose with their Big 12 Championship trophy after ISU’s Big 12 Championship win over Texas, 61-51. Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, MO, Mar. 12, 2023.

Iowa State’s season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the hands of Toledo.

It was a season of ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: it was historic.

Now that the season is wrapped up, sports editor Christian Royston and sports reporter Payne Blazevich take a look at their preseason predictions to see how they fared.

Record predictions

Christian Royston: 23-6

Overall, I’d say my predictions were fairly accurate. I predicted six losses in the regular season, and the Cyclones ended with nine.

Iowa State’s overall record at the end of the year was 22-10, although three of those wins came in the Big 12 Tournament. I had a hunch that Iowa State would take a small step back from last season, as the 2021-22 season was historic to put it lightly.

I didn’t foresee the Cyclones having as many Big 12 losses as they did. I expected around five, and they ended with seven. I think it ended up being a good season, especially with how the team had to adapt to the loss of a star player in Stephanie Soares.

Payne Blazevich: 25-4

In retrospect, I was much too high on the potential of this team, and it seemed like some of the things that could derail the season ended up coming to fruition. A better run in the NCAA Tournament may have helped my score prediction, but this team underperformed in relation to my expectations during the regular season.

A lot of my predictions were based on Iowa State’s dominance in the 2021-22 regular season. I expected this team to continue their dominance, and I felt like they could better compete in some of the games they dropped during their record 28-win season, such as their matchups against Texas and Baylor. 

It turns out this team was much more prepared to take on those two schools, but they were more vulnerable to other games on their schedule.

Potential big win

Christian Royston: Feb. 13 vs. Texas

What can I really say about this? I got this prediction spot on.

I had a feeling going into the season that Iowa State would be able to pull out at least one win against Texas. The Cyclones dropped all three games last season, so it felt like they would be motivated to not be swept again.

I chose the home game mainly because of the impact of Hilton Magic. Lo and behold, the Cyclones clutched up in what turned out to be one of the best weeks the team had all season, second only to the weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.

Payne Blazevich: Dec. 7 at Iowa

Going into the matchup, I felt like it would be a fight, as Iowa State had the tools to pull out a big non-conference win. Unlike some of my other predictions, I don’t have the shield of a Soares injury to save me. 

The Iowa matchup was one of a few puzzling losses where Iowa State wasn’t able to find its rhythm in any sense. The Cyclones were in a good spot headed into halftime, but an explosive third quarter for the Hawkeyes, paired with a poor defensive showing, set Iowa State behind. 

Size and shooting was less of a factor than I had anticipated, and Iowa was more than ready to face the highly touted Cyclones, winning the game 70-57.

Bold prediction

Christian Royston

So, my bold prediction turned out to be extremely bold, as I predicted at least an Elite Eight appearance for the Cyclones. What we got was a tough first-round exit.

With the addition of Soares and Ashley Joens playing the best ball of her career, I feel as though my expectations weren’t too wild. The issue came in the first game against Oklahoma when the Cyclones lost Soares to a torn ACL.

I did say that anything can happen in March, and that turned out to be the case. I believe that securing a No. 4-seed going into the NCAA Tournament may have given the Cyclones an edge to push to the Sweet 16. What actually happened was a short-lived trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, where Toledo honestly just took advantage of all of the issues Iowa State showed all season.

Payne Blazevich

My bold prediction was off-base, but I ended up being a little closer than I expected when the regular season ended. 

I predicted Iowa State to come away with the Big 12 regular season title after returning its most talented team and adding Soares. The loss of Soares hurt this team’s potential, but Iowa State struggled to consistently put away teams they were supposed to beat. 

My prediction was saved a little bit after the Cyclones dominated their bracket en route to a Big 12 Tournament title. Their ring may not have come in the regular season, but they earned a ring nonetheless.

Under the radar player to watch

Christian Royston: Denae Fritz

I think I hit the nail on the head with this pick. Say what you want about the start of the season, but Fritz turned out to be a crucial piece in Iowa State’s success later on.

Not many players were keeping up with Fritz offensively later in the year besides Joens. When the Cyclones were winning, Fritz was the X factor, hitting game-changing threes or getting crucial rebounds.

Once Fritz shook off the rust and got into the swing of things, she was nearly unstoppable.

Payne Blazevich: Stephanie Soares

At the time of publication, Soares was still undervalued in the potential she brought to this Iowa State team. By the start of conference play, it was clear she was one of the most important players on the roster. 

Soares averaged 14.4 points and 10 rebounds in her 13 games, and she was a formidable presence on both sides of the court. Unfortunately, she suffered a torn ACL against Oklahoma Jan. 8 that ended her season early. 

While Soares didn’t get a chance to play the full season, I’m willing to grant myself a successful prediction because she dominated the 13 games she played.