March Madness Stunner: Iowa State Loses to UAB

Iowa State was a Final Four pick for many, but early in this year's tournament, they're already eliminated. What happened?

According to our metrics, Iowa State entered this year's big dance as the 13th-best team in the country. Not many would argue with this ranking -- the Cyclones won the Big 12 Tournament, had plenty of impressive wins throughout the season, and were led by Georges Niang, a Wooden Award finalist.

After just one game, Iowa State is no longer in the NCAA Tournament.

The University of Alabama Birmingham took care of the 3-seeded Cyclones today in dramatic fashion. Per our numbers, UAB's 1.69 nERD was the 11th worst rating among the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament -- you would expect UAB to beat an average opponent by just 1.69 points on a neutral court.

This season, Iowa State ended with a 15.11 nERD score.

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So what exactly happened? How did this upset -- one that few were talking about, as a lot of folks had Iowa State slotted in their Final Four -- occur?

Well, according to numberFire Live, four of the five best players in this afternoon's contest came from UAB. The lone Cyclone who produced well was Jameel McKay, who had an Offensive Rating of 136.2 and a Defensive Rating of 85.4. He was actually the best overall player in the contest.

Meanwhile, Georges Niang was a complete no show. As one of the best players in the country this year, Niang finished with a True Shooting percentage of 34.6% and an Offensive Rating of just 67.7. Niang had a 56.7% True Shooting percentage throughout the regular season, far above how he performed in the Round of 64 against UAB.

Per our analytics, no player was worse in the Iowa State-UAB game today than Niang himself.

The biggest play of the contest came with 50 seconds left, as the Blazers were down two points. Iowa State was more than likely assuming a two-point shot was coming, but UAB knocked down a shot from downtown, gaining the lead and increasing their win probability by 35.8%.

It was a crazy game, just as our win probability graph shows.

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