AMES, Iowa -- The anticipated -- if you go by seeding, anyway -- battle between "Nerd Nation" and "Cyclone Nation" isn't going to happen.
Oh, the Nerds, er, Stanford Cardinal, are still around; they'll be playing in the second round here Monday night. The Cardinal, the No. 2 seed in the regional that Stanford is hosting, defeated No. 15 seed South Dakota 81-62 Saturday.
But the No. 7 seed Cyclones won't be competing at Hilton Coliseum on Monday. Iowa State, with shooting so cold for most its first-round game Saturday that it could have kept ice cream frozen, won't have the chance to try to stop the Cardinal with "Hilton Magic."
The Cyclones fell 55-44 to No. 10 Florida State, an upset that turns Hilton into a neutral court for Monday's game between Stanford and the Seminoles. Unfortunately, it may also turn the building into somewhat of a ghost town.
Then again, knowing Iowa State fans, at least some of them dutifully will show up for Stanford-FSU, even though their hearts will still be heavy after Saturday's loss, which ended senior starter Hallie Christofferson's Cyclone career.
But Florida State seniors Natasha Howard and Cheetah Delgado move on. Both had 10 points to lead the Seminoles, with Howard adding 13 rebounds. If you'd been told before the game that Howard -- one of the ACC's best scorers who entered the NCAA tournament averaging 21.2 points -- would have just 10 against Iowa State, you would have figured the Cyclones were celebrating Saturday.
However, the Seminoles committed to their zone defense and rebounded very well out of it -- they won the board battle 44-30 -- and Iowa State couldn't ever get any rhythm offensively.
"They do so many nice things, but they don't play against the zone as much," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said of the Cyclones. "You think, 'Ah, shooters -- don't zone 'em.' Well, that's all we've got."
Saturday, it was plenty good enough. Iowa State shot 17.9 percent from the field in the first half, and didn't ever really thaw, finishing at 25.4 percent.
When the NCAA bracket came out, Stanford had to be a bit concerned with this trip to the Heartland. After all, Iowa State has had one of the top-drawing women's basketball programs for many years now. It can be brutal on opponents. Saturday, however "Hilton Magic" almost seemed to put a hex on the Cyclones.
"I thought Iowa State seemed to miss shots that a lot of those kids make in their sleep," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who scouted that game before her Cardinal played South Dakota. "I think they wanted to please their crowd so much -- and I've seen this happen actually with our team sometimes -- but I thought [the Cyclones] were trying so hard, but they were just not making shots that they routinely make."
However, Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike did make the shots she's routinely made throughout her career, and thus there was no chance of a mega-upset by the Coyotes. Ogwumike led Stanford with 23 points, and in the process became the Pac-12's all-time scoring leader, passing former Cardinal star Candice Wiggins. Ogwumike now has 2,652 points.
Ogwumike's parents and sisters -- including Nneka, a past Stanford All-American now with the WNBA's Sparks -- were at Hilton for the milestone, and Chiney said Wiggins sent her a message as well.