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November 16, 2012?
Over the next seven days, PowerMizzou.com will preview every team in the 2012 Battle for Atlantis. Missouri opens play in the tournament at noon Central time on Thanksgiving Day and we will have complete coverage of the Tigers throughout the three-day event.
Our previews continue today with the Northern Iowa Panthers.
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Last Year: 20-14, 9-9 MVC (T-3rd)
Postseason: NIT 2nd round
Returning Starters: 4
Strengths: UNI brings back four starters from a team that got better throughout the season in 2011-12. The Panthers are no strangers to the big stage, having taken on (and taken down) some big names over the last few seasons under Ben Jacobson. Anthony James averaged 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds last year and joins Jake Koch and Marc Sonnen as players who averaged at least 28 minutes per game. At 6-foot-9, Koch is a versatle player who led UNI in blocks and assists. Seth Tuttle was last year's MVC freshman of the year. The Panthers have solid size, especially for a mid-major, bringing four players off the bench who are 6-foot-6 or bigger.
Weaknesses: Departed guard Johnny Moran started more games than any player in UNI history and the pool of players to replace him is very green. Athletically, the Panthers aren't going to match up with Mizzou (or most of the top BCS conference teams). They have to play their brand of basketball and avoid an up-and-down game.
Overview: UNI is one of the nation's most successful mid-majors over the last few years, but a tournament in which they could face three pre-season top 20 teams may be a bit much this early on. The Panthers aren't much of a threat to win the whole thing, but they could absolutely knock off one of the tournament's heavyweights on the right night. Jacobson is 59 games over .500 in six seasons and UNI doesn't shy away from anyone on a big stage.
Other Atlantis Previews: Stanford
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