Most Iowa State fans watched their hopes fade away with every Kaleb Wesson post bucket late Friday night in the Cyclones' 62-59 loss to Ohio State.

With an early exit from the cardinal and gold, what team will Iowa State fans latch onto? 

It's a weird year in March Madness because of how normal the games have gone. Out of the 16 teams remaining, the top 14 KenPom teams are alive, along with No. 18 LSU and No. 29 Oregon.

NCAA Tournament vs. Kentucky — Davis double teamed

Kentucky forward Anthony Davis looks to pass out of a double team during No. 1-seeded Kentucky's matchup with Iowa State on Saturday, March 17, in Louisville, Ky. Davis, a freshman, led the Wildcats with a double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds, in the 87-71 win in the third round of NCAA tournament play.

Outside of the Sunflower State letdowns from Kansas and Kansas State, every top 4 seed advanced to the Sweet 16.

The two teams that bounced the Jayhawks and Wildcats — 5 seed Auburn and 12 seed Oregon — aren't even good Cinderella team candidates (no, Oregon — who made a Final Four two years ago — doesn't count).

With that laid out, here are some teams that might be worth jumping on the bandwagon for Iowa State fans.

West: 3 seed Texas Tech

The Red Raiders' strongest trait is that they share a membership in the Big 12, like the Cyclones.

Some fans possess different views on being pro-conference vs. everyone for themselves in the tournament, but after a weak showing in the first weekend, the Big 12 is left with one team.

Besides the conference angle, Texas Tech is good and unique. The Red Raiders won't explode too much offensively, but the defense is stout. Texas Tech ranks No. 1 in adjusted defense, per KenPom. 

How fun (or maybe weird is a better word) would a Texas Tech and Virginia — the No. 3 adjusted defensive team — national championship be after Texas Tech plays Michigan (No. 2 adjusted defensive team) in the Sweet 16?

Still not sold? 

How about some Chris Beard for you. Beard is a finalist for coach of the year in college hoops. The Red Raiders advanced to the Elite Eight last season and lost a majority of its production. 


Sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton attempts to make a shot but gets blocked by Texas Tech sophomore guard Jarret Culver and redshirt senior forward Tariq Owens and misses during the second half of the senior night game. The Cyclones lost 80-73 against the Red Raiders on March 9 at Hilton Coliseum. 

With only Jarrett Culver back as a main contributor, Beard has the Red Raiders rolling again in March.

If you're still salty that the Red Raiders spoiled Iowa State's senior day or some other reason, here's our next option.

East: 4 seed Virginia Tech

Another Tech team falls on the list. Iowa State doesn't have many ties to the Hokies, which may help build their case.

Virginia Tech is a pretty balanced team that's flown under the radar for most the year. 

With Duke, Virginia and North Carolina in the ACC spotlight this season, there haven't been as many eyes on the Hokies. 

Virginia Tech just got back dynamic guard Justin Robinson, but it still hasn't gotten much recognition. 

Another aspect that boosts the Hokies' case is their region. Virginia Tech can be giant slayers. Its path to the Final Four includes a date with 1 seed Duke and either 2 seed Michigan State or 3 seed LSU.

That's a tough path, but if you stick with Virginia Tech and it makes a run, that's a fun team to cheer on.

South: 12 seed Oregon

While not a true Cinderella, the Ducks are still a fun team to watch. They're unique in the sense of their lineups.

Dana Altman starts four players listed at 6-foot-9 alongside scoring guard Payton Pritchard. Off the bench, Altman has even more size, too.

Oregon entered the season with pretty high expectations, but the Ducks were knocked down with injuries. A late-season run and conference title jolted the Ducks into the tournament.

Oregon received a pretty favorable route to the Sweet Sixteen, but that ends with 1 seed Virginia. Similar to the Hokies, Oregon has a 1 seed and a 2 or 3 seed to get to the Final Four.

Midwest: 3 seed Houston

The Midwest is maybe the worst region to jump onto as an Iowa State fan because it features North Carolina, Kentucky and Auburn (unless, you're a fan of former Iowa State President Steven Leath).

NCAA Tournament: Iowa State vs. UNC

Senior forward Melvin Ejim attempts to shoot over North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks during Iowa State's 85-83 win over North Carolina on March 23 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Ejim scored 19 points and had four rebounds in the Cyclone victory.

That leaves us non-blue blood and non-SEC Houston. The Cougars advanced through the first weekend against two double-digit seeds (thanks, in part, to Iowa State).

Houston is a pretty balanced team, too, but its biggest appeal is there's nothing too unlikeable about the Cougars from an Iowa State perspective or a national perspective.

Plus, it'd be fun to watch Houston knock off perennial powerhouses Kentucky and North Carolina.

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