Saturday, March 20, 2010

Northern Iowa Faces Stern Test in Kansas

The good news is the University of Northern Iowa survived its first round NCAA game against UNLV. The bad news is that the Panther's reward is a Saturday date with No. 1ranked Kansas.

Well as they say, you must take the bad with the good.

But I see this as a great opportunity for the 13,000-student university from Cedar Falls. Maybe it's because I am drinking too much purple and gold liquid (Northern Iowa's school colors) lately, but I think the Panthers have an chance for the upset.

Kansas basically had a practice session with its win over Lehigh in the first round. Almost every huge NCAA favorite struggles in one game during the tournament. Why not today against Northern Iowa?

The Panther's strategy is simply. Hang around until the end of the game with an opportunity for the victory.

Northern Iowa must control tempo. Kansas wants a track meet, the Panthers want a turtle race.

Northern must limit its turnovers. That was a big problem against UNLV. Giving Kansas more possessions today is not an option if the Panthers want a win.

The Panther normally play outstanding defense. This is another must.

And Northern Iowa must make lots of shots. Offense is sometimes lacking with this group, but today the Panthers need to make an exception to that rule.

Consistent success from three-point range would be nice. Northern Iowa radio play-by-play guy Gary Rima shouts "Kaboom" whenever the Panthers score a three-point basket. Rima needs to utter many Kabooms during this game.

The Panthers need another business-like, blue-collar effort. Forget about Kansas. Play your game. Have fun.

And truly believe.

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