The Northern Iowa Panthers have made it to the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a preview of the team and a prediction of how they’ll do during March Madness.
Team: Northern Iowa Panthers
Conference: Missouri Valley Conference
Head coach: Ben Jacobson
How they got here: Won conference tournament
The Panthers punched their ticket to the Dance by beating Wichita State in overtime before beating Evansville in the MVC Tournament title game, and their key to success is forcing teams to defend all over the floor. Wes Washpun, Matt Bohannon, Paul Jesperson and Jeremy Morgan all have similar skills and force teams to scramble, and they all can rebound. Washpun is a slasher and passer who lives on drive-and-kick offense.
Depth isn’t a strong suit for Northern Iowa, and this isn’t a team that can win in a shootout. The Panthers like to control the tempo to make up for their lack of athleticism, and they can be shaky on the glass. UNI needs to play a grinder in the NCAA Tournament or the Panthers will be headed home in a hurry.
Don’t sleep on the Panthers. They beat the likes of North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State (twice) during the regular season, and they won’t back down from anyone. This team is an upset special, one that could string together a couple of wins depending on the matchups.