Sunday, Feburary 8th, 1PM
The Jays are on a roll right now and are ready to take on the conference leader. This game, though being broadcast by both local TV stations, will be getting a lot of attention and viewing from others. The Cedar Falls Utilities Action3News broadcast will also be on the ESPN Full Court PPV basketball package, so the broadcast will be seen by more than just the local markets.
Here is what is going on with Northern Iowa since the last matchup a month ago:
- Northern Iowa has been rolling along in conference play winning games, but the last three have been challenges, but they keep finding ways to win.
- One more conference win and they will have won the most conference games in one season in the school’s history.
- The current winning streak by UNI is the 4th longest streak in the nation right now.
- 9 of the last 13 games, UNI has held opponents to under 40% shooting.
- All 5 starters average 9 or more points a game. So a very balanced scoring attack.
I think this game has been circled on the calendar since the loss on January 6th for the Bluejays. This team has grown a lot since that game and I think they feel they have something to prove finishing out the trek across Iowa. Antoine Young was not playing as much yet and Justin Carter wasn’t into the groove like he is now. These two changes make this Creighton team look so different.
Northern Iowa is a little scary because they have been finding ways to win and look a lot like Drake last season. I always kept wondering when the other shoe would drop with Drake, but it never did. UNI is looking almost mirror to this so far this season. Creighton usually has Northern Iowa’s number and so far are undefeated in the new McLeod center since it opened 2 seasons ago getting out to big leads. I’m sure it is a much better place to play basketball than the UNI Dome.
A factor in this game will be surprisingly enough, the crowd. Creighton is used to playing in large crowds night after night. On the opposite side, despite the run that UNI has had this season in conference play, they are not packing the place for their games. Now, it sounds like there have not been many weekend games since the students have been back from break which is one of the reasons cited for the smaller crowds at home for the Panthers. At the same time, it sounds like it could be a pretty full place for the Sunday afternoon game. I think there is a lot of pressure then for UNI to win the game and they will not handle the pressure. The Jays had their own issues earlier this season that they were intimidated by their own home crowd.
Speaking of pressure, the Jays defense has picked up a bit over recent games. Now some have theorized that to stop Northern Iowa, you have to pressure and run the whole game where 4 of the 5 UNI starters play almost 30 minutes or more per game and you can wear them out. The other side to the coin is that those players play so many minutes because they are the best players and should be on the court that much. Those that rotate 10-11 players have a drop off. Well whether that is true or not, the X-factor is fouls. You get a couple of those guys that play a ton of minutes into foul trouble and depth will win most times.
To pull this game out, the Jays will need to play pressure defense, be tough and draw some fouls. Being a road game is tough as it is and sometimes getting calls on the road takes a little more effort. They can’t be afraid to take it to the basket.
The big guys for both teams was a non-factor in the last matchup. I don’t see it that way this time. The ones who get more out of their frontline players will win this game. Containing Adam Koch and not letting him shoot more free throws than the whole opposing team (which happened for UNI against Missouri St. a couple weeks ago) would be nice too.
This will be a tough, physical game and I think this time, the Jays get a little payback and continue to solidify their spot for the conference tournament.
Prediction: Jays 80, Northern Iowa 71