Northern Iowa 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview
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Northern Iowa Panthers - Missouri Valley Conference (28-4, 15-3)
Seed: #9 - Midwest Region
Big Wins: 12/12 Siena (82-65), 2/19 ODU (71-62), 3/7 vs Wichita State (67-52)
Bad Losses: 11/20 vs DePaul (52-60), 2/13 at Bradley (59-68), 2/23 at Evansville (54-55)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, First Round loss to Purdue
Coach: Ben Jacobson (0-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Probable Northern Iowa Starters:
Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Junior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 2.7 apg
Ali Farokhmanesh, Senior, Guard, 9.3 ppg, 1.1 apg
Johnny Moran, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 ppg, 1.5 apg
Adam Koch, Senior, Forward, 11.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Jordan Eglseder, Senior, Center, 12.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Key Northern Iowa Roleplayers:
Kerwin Dunham, Junior, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.0 apg
Jake Koch, Freshman, Forward, 3.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Lucas O’Rear, Junior, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Marc Sonnen, Freshman, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Why The Panthers Can Surprise:
Northern Iowa wins games with their defense. They can stay close to just about any opponent and then finish them off with their steady free-throw shooting. The success on the defensive end of the floor, not to mention the offensive end as well, begins with 7-0 center Jordan Eglseder. At 280 pounds, Eglseder is just too big for most opponents to stop. He is not a great shot blocker, but that is mostly because the opposition rarely challenges him. Eglseder leads the team in rebounding and has developed into a solid interior scorer who can also step outside and hit the mid-range jumper consistently.
But Eglseder might not even be the best player in the frontcourt. Adam Koch averages 11.8 points per game and has been unstoppable at times. The Panthers will just feed the 6-8 senior and nobody in the Missouri Valley Conference can stop him. The fact that he hits 83.4 percent of his free-throw attempts makes him a great option late in games. Even the bench has experience in the frontcourt. Lucas O’Rear is a fine rebounder and is capable of giving Eglseder and Koch a break when they need it.
Why The Panthers Can Disappoint:
Some numbers are bad since this is not a team that goes after steals or has many shot blockers or shares the ball particularly well, but when Northern Iowa runs into trouble it will be because of inconsistent outside shooting. Ali Farokhmanesh is the only player on the team who connects on over one three-pointer per contest. While Farokhmanesh’s overall shooting numbers are good, he has been very streaky and if his shot is not falling, UNI will have to find somebody on the perimeter who can hit some shots. Johnny Moran is an option, but he is known for his defense, not his shooting. Kerwin Dunham and Marc Sonnen are a couple options off the bench. Dunham will get some minutes for his ballhandling skills and Sonnen has rarely gotten the opportunity to consistently show his stuff.
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Who To Watch for Northern Iowa:
Kwadzo Ahelegbe is the player who makes this team go. While the team ranks in the top ten nationally in turnovers per game, Ahelegbe has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. The ability of the rest of the team to take care of the ball is impressive. But it is still Ahelegbe who brings the ball up the court and gets things moving. Ahelegbe is more than just a point guard though. He is a solid scorer and will attack the basket and finish with ease.
Northern Iowa By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.3 (284th in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 54.3 (2, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.1 (196, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.3 (50, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.6 (121, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.3 (113, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.4 (11, 3)
Rebound Margin: 3.0 (82, 4)
Assists Per Game: 10.7 (307, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (9, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Kansas