It's rare two teams come into a game with practically the same emotional mindset, but that's exactly what will happen Saturday afternoon when Oklahoma and Iowa State clash at Lloyd Noble Center.
The Sooners come into the matchup reeling from Wednesday's stunning overtime loss to Texas. Oklahoma led by 22 with just 7:54 remaining, but allowed Texas back into the game with turnovers forced by relentless full-court pressure from the Longhorns and stagnant offense down the stretch.
Iowa State, meanwhile, was the victim of some questionable officiating at the end of Monday night's game against Kansas. This week, the Big 12 conference issued a statement acknowledging there were in fact officiating errors "made at the end of regulations." That's all well and good, but it doesn't give the Cyclones the victory it had within its grasp.
Not only are both teams coming off excruciating losses, but those games could've helped seal NCAA tournament berths for both teams. Instead, both teams find themselves in the thick of the bubble race with plenty of other teams fighting for at-large berths.
A win over Kansas would have gone a long way toward helping the Cyclones, giving Iowa State a second big win on its resume. The other came Jan. 26 at home over Kansas State.
While a win wouldn't have cemented a berth for Oklahoma either, Wednesday's road game in Austin was the toughest road game remaining for the Sooners and would've helped the Sooners maintain the monster computer profile they have built up over the course of the season.
There are three probable attitudes the Sooners and Cyclones will come out with on Saturday. Both teams could come out fired up, depressed, or one team could come out fired up and the other depressed. However, based on the situations both teams are facing in regards to the NCAA tournament, both will most likely come out with a huge sense of urgency, making for an intense battle.
The Sooners were embarrassed when they traveled to Ames a month ago, losing to the Cyclones 83-64 in a game that wasn't even that close. The sting of that loss will no doubt play a part in the motivation the Sooners draw from Saturday afternoon.
However, the biggest motivator for Oklahoma will be the goal the Sooners set for themselves at the beginning of the season: make the NCAA tournament, a place no current OU player has ever been. The Sooners were in a prime position to do that if they had simply finished against the Longhorns Wednesday night.
Since they didn't, Oklahoma is once again fighting for its tournament life and faces a team on Saturday that's doing the exact same thing. While it's rare to see that scenario, the fact it occurs with March Madness right around the corner should result in a major fight on Saturday afternoon.