An early look at Iowa State’s important non-conference matchups


Jacob Rice

Tamin Lispey and T.J. Otzelberger at the ISU vs. Texas men’s basketball game, Jan. 17.

It’s never too early to get excited about Iowa State men’s basketball, and with the summer workouts starting up, it’s time to take an early look at the important non-conference matchups and tournaments set to take place.

It is given that Iowa State will be playing a competitive field of non-conference opponents, highlighted by the annual CyHawk matchup, leading into the tough Big 12 schedule. However, the Cyclones did a great job of lining up matchups throughout the season to improve their tournament play in hopes of redeeming themselves in March.

When all is said and done, there are two big events during the non-conference season and one during the summer to pay attention to going forward.

Trip to the Bahamas

The Cyclones will start their season early by traveling to the Bahamas to take on teams from around the world.

The team announced Monday that the trip will take place at the end of the summer, starting Aug. 4-10. The Cyclones will spend six days and seven nights at the Atlantis Paradise Resort and play three games throughout that six-day period.

The Cyclones will start with the Bahamas Select Team at noon Aug. 6. The home team will expect to prepare Iowa State for the final two days.

Iowa State will then take on Zalgiris-2 from Lithuania at noon Aug. 7. The Cyclones will round out their trip with Obras Basket from Argentina at 1 p.m. Aug. 9.

The trip should give the Cyclones good reps at the end of their summer workouts and will match them up against competition similar to the level playing at the FIBA World Cup. It will also be a final checkpoint for the team before they prepare for the season ahead.

ESPN Events Invitational

The big tournament for the Cyclones will be the 2023 ESPN Events Invitational which is set to go from Nov. 23-26.

The tournament boasts a strong field of teams with nearly every single team having competed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

The Cyclones will be joined in Orlando by Boise State, Butler, Florida Atlantic (FAU), Penn State, Texas A&M, VCU and Virginia Tech. Boise State, FAU, Penn State, Texas A&M, VCU and Iowa State all competed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, while Virginia Tech competed in the 2023 NIT.

The last time that Iowa State took the court in the ESPN Events Invitational was in 2016. The Cyclones took down Indiana State and Miami to advance to the championship game where they fell to No. 11 Gonzaga 73-71.

Iowa State will look to keep the Big 12 winning streak going as Oklahoma won the tournament in 2022.

The tournament will give the Cyclones good tournament experience going into the season to prepare them for what could prove to be another tough set of Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.

Last season the Cyclones competed in the Phil Knight Invitational where they took down the top-ranked team in the nation in North Carolina. The Cyclones’ only loss in last season’s tournament came to UCONN, who ended up winning the national title at the end of the season.

Big 12 vs. BIG EAST

The final big matchup in non-conference play will come at the start of December as the Cyclones travel to Chicago to take on DePaul in the 2023 BIG EAST/Big 12 Battle.

The Cyclones are undefeated in the conference battle, winning each of their last three matchups. The 2020 meeting with DePaul was canceled due to COVID-19, but Iowa State beat St. Johns in 2022, Creighton in 2021 and Seton Hall in 2019.

The matchup with Seton Hall was Iowa State’s biggest win in the conference battle, as the Cyclones beat the No. 16 team in the nation 76-66 in front of a packed Hilton crowd. Last season the Cyclones took down St. Johns in dominant fashion 71-60 in Ames.

The game against DePaul will only be the second meeting between the two schools, with the last time Iowa State faced DePaul being in 1967. The Cyclones will look to avenge the loss from over 50 years back.

The BIG EAST/Big 12 Battle will also highlight other strong matchups between the conferences as Houston will get its first chance to compete in the battle as a Big 12 school. The Cougars will take on Xavier on the same day as Iowa State’s game, Dec. 1.

Also on the same day, Kansas, a top-ranked seed going into the 2023 NCAA Tournament, will take on the national champs in UCONN.

Just a few days later, Texas will take on Marquette in another matchup of top-ranked teams.

The BIG EAST/Big 12 Battle will be a good final checkpoint for the Cyclones as they look ahead to the Big 12 season. The non-conference season will be in full swing, and the Cyclones will need to be on top of their game to fix any mistakes before what could be a more punishing than usual conference season.