The Battle 4 Atlantis kicks off on Wednesday with a game against Michigan at 11 a.m.
The Cyclones will kick off the tournament with a chance to play some of the top teams in the country. The preseason tournament that Iowa State attended last season was the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
"it's an unbelievable tournament, it's a thing all talk to our guys that 'we are here because of the past, because of what those former guys did for us to put us on this stage in Atlantis or last year in Maui, so we need to go represent the Iowa State name and those guys the right way," coach Steve Prohm said.
The main problem in defending the Wolverines is their ability to create space. With one of the top centers in the league in Jon Teske, the Wolverines run a perimeter-centric offense with four guards on the floor at a time. Teske's ability to stretch the floor helps that system work.
Teske will be a matchup problem for the Cyclones who probably see a lot of their last season in the Michigan offense.
With the loss of NBA products such as Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton — only one of which was able to play in the Maui Invitational — the Cyclones will need offense to come from somewhere else.
When asked about the performance Horton-Tucker had at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and what that did for him the rest of the season, Prohm was pretty straightforward about what Horton-Tucker's performance provided him.
"It got him to the Lakers right?" Prohm said. "I think everyone knew Talen was a really good player but I think on a national stage, I think people saw him play at a high level and it kept his name in the forefront for the rest of the year."
The No. 6 Tar Heels are always among the top in the country and this year is no different.
North Carolina is benefitting from the play of freshman standout Cole Anthony. Anthony performed well in his first couple games but has since cooled off, which will be what Iowa State needs if the the Cyclones match up in the second round with the Tar Heels.
Iowa State's ate will have to rely on consistent guard play and an uptick in three-point shooting and its defense will need a boost if they face North Carolina.
If the Cyclones are able to handle Michigan in their first game, then this would be one of the two teams they could face.
The Crimson Tide are severely outmatched by North Carolina. Alabama has lost two games already — to Penn at home and to Rhode Island on the road — and have struggled to keep its opponents off the board.
Alabama and North Carolina could also meet the Cyclones in the loser's bracket first round as well.
The rest of the field
Some of the other teams that won't have to be worried about until later in the tournament are No. 8 Gonzaga, Southern Mississippi — a team that the Cyclones already beat — No. 13 Seton Hall and No. 11 Oregon.
For Iowa State to come out with a tournament win would improve its prestige this season immensely with three teams being ranked in the top 15.