March Madness…HUAHHHH! Part 1

It’s March so you know what that means. Yep it’s time for some of you to pray that we see Duke get beat again and this happens…

mercer dance

But seriously it’s time to start scouting so those brackets can get filled out. First off let’s be honest there’s nothing you can do other than guess and hope it all works out. The NCAA Tournament is still a few weeks away but I plan on giving you a few sleepers to look out for leading up to the tournament.

Northern Iowa is the first team I’ll look at and they aren’t really a sleeper this season but to the casual college basketball fan they are. UNI has made 6 NCAA tournament appearances with the most recent in 2010 when they were a 9-seed and reached the Sweet 16 by knocking off UNLV and Kansas before eventually losing to a Final Four team from that year, Michigan State. This season the Panthers have appeared in the top 10 of both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls. Ben Jacobson’s squad hangs their hat on wins over 2014 NCAA tournament teams; Stephen F. Austin – the number one team in the Southland Conference this season, Iowa – one of the many teams expected to make it to the Big Dance from the Big Ten, and conference foe Wichita State Shockers (27-3). UNI also has a win over the current Summit Conference league leader South Dakota State (2013 NCAA Tourney team). The Shockers beat UNI in the regular season finale but the two are expected to meet again in the Missouri Valley Conference Finals. The Panthers also lost a tough double OT game at VCU, another 2014 NCAA tournament team. Defensively the Panthers are ranked 4th in the nation in points allowed at 54.5 per game. They play methodically on offense but work at getting quality shots and have the 12th best FG percentage in the nation. The Panthers have used the same starting five all season and use a mix of leaders and young players on their squad. Senior forward Seth Tuttle sets the tone with his 44.7% 3-point shooting and leads the team in points, assists, rebounding, and FG%. Senior guard Deon Mitchell runs the point (46% from 3) while junior guards Wes Washpun (2nd leading scorer and 2013-2014 MVC All-Newcomer) and Paul Jesperson (45% from 3) fill in off the bench along with freshman and team leader in 3-point FG% Wyatt Lohaus.

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