After a mixed bag of rounds and forgettable placements in the Cyclone men's golf team's first three invitationals of the year, the Cyclones will face their toughest competition yet at the Big 12 Match Play tournament.
The Big 12 Match Play only began last year, but it provides Iowa State — as well as the rest of the Big 12 — a chance to compete with each other early, and in the Cyclones' case it helps them wrap up their fall season before they're off until late January.
The teams will be ranked based on their average score and their overall ranking, and it looks like Iowa State will have some tough sledding.
Iowa State is projected to be seeded ninth out of 10 teams, with an average score of around 290.
The Big 12 has a plethora of powerhouses at the top, with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Baylor already having picked up invitational wins and having been ranked in the top-25 in the nation at one point in the season.
The pools will be determined in part by the Golfweek rankings, in which Iowa State finds itself 84th. Just as a point of reference for this weekend, Texas Tech is third nationally and Oklahoma is fourth, with three more Big 12 teams winding up in the top-25 (Baylor at 15, Texas at 20 and West Virginia at 22).
Based on the seeding, Iowa State will be placed in one of two pools and begin pool play Friday.
The Cyclones will play five matches, with each individual golfer going up against others from their pool. Based on how those go, they will be given three points for a win and one for a draw. Losses will gain golfers no points. Whichever team accumulates the most points in each pool will move on to the championship Sunday, with consolation placements also being determined Sunday.
The Cyclones have not taken advantage of the continuity within their roster this season. If the Cyclones can put together a solid three days, they might be able to use it as a strong finish to a forgetful start, and have momentum to build off of.
As for the competition the Cyclones will be facing, it's no secret the Big 12 is one of the best conferences in the country. With nearly half of the conference already picking up wins, this weekend should provide some very exciting golf for everyone involved.
Andy Lopez, a junior from Texas Tech, boasts the lowest average score to par as well as a tie for the lowest round (65). Oklahoma senior Garett Reband is another name to watch. He's played nine rounds of golf and averages the lowest score in the conference and also shot a 65. A couple of freshmen around the Big 12 have already been making names for themselves, with Baylor's Tyler Isenhart and Oklahoma's Jake Holbrook averaging scores around par (70.33 and 72.33, respectively).
Iowa State's Tripp Kinney has been hovering outside the top-10 in individual scores so far this season, but he will lean on his experience and familiarity to try and get himself higher in the rankings as well as provide a No. 1 role for the team.
Frank Lindwall and Lachlan Barker have also had solid starts to their seasons, and figure to be the Cyclones' No. 2 and No. 3 seeds going into Match Play.
The entire team has been at this tournament before and has found itself in bad positions. The Cyclones are searching for good form and this weekend's unique format could give the Cyclones a boost heading into the winter break.