The UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa has been a little quiet over the fall with their Division I-AA football program not doing so well. As the focus turns to the McLeod Center and its mens’ basketball program, the hype is just as intense as it has been for its gridiron gang in the past.
Northern Iowa has one of the most potent offenses in the entire Midwest, and one of the biggest factors going for them is that they don’t have to stand at the likes of the Big Ten or Big 12. In the Missouri Valley, sure, there is Creighton and Wichita State to worry about, but the Panthers are just as a threat as any other team in the MVC.
UNI returns four starters to their squad, including leading scorer Anthony James. James will have to sit out the first three games due to a team-issued suspension, but will be another threat to make the Panthers a thriving mid-major. James put up 12.5 points per game in 2011-12.
One of the freshmen who made the Panthers a nightmare for other MVC coaches was Seth Tuttle, an original Iowa product (West Fork HS, Sheffield, IA) who showed that he can play Division I basketball. Tuttle led the Panthers with 5.6 rebounds per contest last year, and trailed closely behind James with 9.6 PPG. He did all of this coming off the bench mind you.
Jake Koch, younger brother to UNI basketball alum, Adam, started for the Panthers leading the team with assists with 2.7 a game but made his living with the mid-range shot as he averaged 8.5 a night.
While Creighton may be the favorite in most experts’ eyes to win the Missouri Valley, Northern Iowa will gladly be waiting in the wings ready to steal a conference title from former coach Greg McDermott come March in St. Louis.