Teams: No. 8 Syracuse Orange (21-10, 11-5) vs. No. 9 Iowa State Cyclones (18-12, 9-9)
Day & Time: Saturday, March 18, 1:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Iowa State Blog: Wide Right & Natty Lite
Rivalry: 0-0; though we’ve played Iowa and Northern Iowa before
Current Streak: N/A
First Meeting: W E H A V E N E V E R P L A Y E D THE C Y L O N E S , B R U H.
Last Meeting: (see above)
Head Coaches: SU: Quentin Hillsman (11th Year, 240-126); Iowa State: Bill Fennelly (22nd Year, 465-235)
Head Coach Bio: Fennelly started his women’s basketball coaching career in 1981 as an assistant at Fresno State. He spent five years over there before heading closer to home (he’s an Iowa native) at Notre Dame. In 1988, he took over the Toledo Rockets’ program, and won three MAC tournament titles there in seven seasons.
He was quick to start winning when he took over the Cyclones’ gig, going 17-10 and 17-12, respectively, in his first couple seasons (including an NCAA Tournament berth in year two). From 1997-98 through 2001-02, however, ISU won at least 24 games, and also took home the 2000 Big 12 Tournament title.
Those teams went to back-to-back Sweet 16s before fading back to the pack a bit. The Cyclones were resurgent once again in 2008-09, making the Elite 8. They made the NCAA Tournament each year from 2007 to 2015, and after a year off in 2016, they’re back this season.
Last Year: Iowa State had their worst season under Fennelly, going 13-17 and finishing eighth in the Big 12. The team struggled right away in non-conference play and never really recovered.
Last Game: The Cyclones were knocked off by the No. 24 Kansas State Wildcats, 74-67 in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. ISU came out strong on both ends of the floor, taking a 15-7 lead after one quarter. But from there, it was all K-State. Iowa State was outscored 47-32 in the middle stanzas, while the Cyclones struggled mightily from the floor (shot just 33 percent on the game).
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Either Seanna Johnson or Bridget Carleton could qualify here. Both score over 15 points per game, and crash the boards with aplomb (8.1 per game for the former, 5.8 for the latter). Johnson also shoots over 43 percent from the floor. Let’s make sure she’s covered, gang.
If Syracuse Wins: A very likely NCAA championship rematch with the host UConn Huskies. Connecticut might have a pretty different roster this year vs. last, but they’re still just as good. UConn went 32-0, and hasn’t lost in 107 games.
If Syracuse Loses: It doesn’t take the air out of last year, necessarily, but a first round loss (even against an opponent they have no business playing) would not be a positive -- especially with a strong senior class leaving when this season wraps up.
Fun Fact No. 1: Syracuse was ranked nearly all season and had an RPI of 31. Yet, they’re in an 8 vs. 9 game and have to play UConn next.
Fun Fact No. 2: The Orange are 4-21 all-time in Storrs, and haven’t won there since 1992. They’ve also never played anyone but UConn there, which does that record no favors.