Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Northern Iowa Panthers
Missouri Valley (22-12, 11-7)
The MVC Championship game was the perfect example of what this Northern Iowa team wants to do. They want to grind out wins with their tough defense and give themselves an opportunity to win the game at the end. And that is what they did throughout the conference tournament, squeezing out three low-scoring wins. Many expected Northern Iowa to take a step back from last year’s team that earned a five seed in the NCAA Tournament. And they have taken a pretty big step back overall, but this team is coming together at the right time and is always a tough team to beat. Just ask North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State.
Big Wins: 11/21 North Carolina (71-67), 12/19 vs Iowa State (81-79), 2/13 at Wichita State (53-50)
Bad Losses: 11/14 Colorado State (78-84), 1/6 at Missouri State (58-59), 1/16 Loyola IL (41-51)
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Why They Can Surprise:
Wes Washpun has stepped into the starting point guard role and has responded by being the team’s top scorer and leading the defensive effort on the perimeter. Washpun’s outside shooting has been inconsistent at best this season, but he is at least a threat to shoot the ball. That threat allows him to attack the basket and finish around the basket or find one of his teammates. Those teammates are usually the trio of guards that start beside Washpun. Matt Bohannon, Paul Jesperson and Jeremy Morgan are all very efficient and effective outside shooters. Together those three connect on exactly 40 percent of three-point attempts. Bohannon is the most prolific of the bunch, but Jesperson is a big 6-6 guard who often must defend bigger opposition and Morgan is the team’s top rebounder at 5.1 per game and a very good passer and defender too.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The problem for Northern Iowa, especially when compared to last year, is that there is no post presence. Bennett Koch was thrown into the fire this year and the sophomore has done quite well. Fellow sophomore Klint Carlson will see plenty of action too and actually plays more minutes than Koch off of the bench. Regardless, this is a UNI team that is not going to block a bunch of shots with their big man, nor are they going to get open looks on the perimeter because of defenses collapsing into the paint to stop Koch or Carlson. Usually when you have four guards around a big man, that big man has to be productive. That is not the case here and that one forward is there to play defense and let the four guards do the scoring and most of the rebounding. It has worked, especially lately since Northern Iowa has won 12 of their last 13 games, but the competition is about to get tougher.
Probable Starters:
Wes Washpun, Senior, Guard, 14.3 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.0 rpg
Matt Bohannon, Senior, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 1.0 apg, 4.1 rpg
Jeremy Morgan, Junior, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 5.1 rpg
Paul Jesperson, Senior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Bennett Koch, Sophomore, Forward, 7.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Key Roleplayers:
Klint Carlson, Sophomore, Forward, 6.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Wyatt Lohaus, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 1.1 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.0 (279th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.9 (12, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.7 (90, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (101, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (74, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.5 (49, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.3 (18, 1)
Rebound Margin:  -3.9 (299, 9)
Assists Per Game:  11.9 (264, 6)
Turnovers Per Game:  9.8 (7, 1)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2015    NCAA Second Round win over Wyoming
2015    NCAA Third Round loss to Louisville
2013    CIT      First Round win over North Dakota
2013    CIT      Second Round win over UIC
2013    CIT      Quarterfinal win over Bradley
2013    CIT      Semifinal loss to Weber State
2012    NIT      First Round win over St. Joseph's
2012    NIT      Second Round loss to Drexel
2011    CIT      First Round win over Rider
2011    CIT      Quarterfinal loss to Southern Methodist
2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over UNLV
2010    NCAA Round of 32 win over Kansas
2010    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Michigan State
2009    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Purdue
2006    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Georgetown
2005    NCAA Round of loss to Wisconsin
*all team stats through 3/6