#50 Northern Iowa Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley
 Northern Iowa Logo
After a few down seasons, Northern Iowa started playing great basketball at the end of the 2018-2019 campaign. The Panthers picked up right where they left off last season, winning 11 of their first 12 games. By mid-February UNI was an impressive 22-3. They faltered a bit down the stretch, losing three of their final six games, but they still won the outright Missouri Valley regular season title. And that is a good jumping off point for the Panthers to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2021.
2019-20 Record: 25-6, 14-4
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Coach Record: 269-170 at UNI, 269-170 overall
Key Departed Players:
Isaiah Brown, Guard, 9.2 ppg
Spencer Haldeman, Guard, 9.0 ppg
Justin Dahl, Center, 3.0 ppg
Key Returning Players:
AJ Green, Junior, Guard, 19.7 ppg
Trae Berhow, Senior, Guard, 12.5 ppg
Austin Phyfe, Junior, Forward, 11.2 ppg
Noah Carter, Sophomore, Forward, 4.3 ppg
Tywhon Pickford, Senior, Guard, 3.6 ppg
Antwan Kimmons, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg
James Betz, Sophomore, Forward, 2.7 ppg
Key New Players:
Tytan Anderson, Freshman, Forward
Bowen Born, Freshman, Guard
Drew Daniel, Freshman, Forward
Evan Gauger, RS Freshman, Guard
Nate Heise, Freshman, Guard
Cole Henry, RS Freshman, Forward
Goanar Mar, Senior, Forward, Transfer from George Mason, not eligible
On his own, AJ Green can carry this team a long way. As a sophomore last season, Green tallied a team high 19.7 points and 3.0 assists. He hit 39.1 percent of his 233 attempts from beyond the arc and shot 91.7 percent from the charity stripe. Obviously Green is a great shooter, but if you think he is the best pure shooter on the team, you’d get an argument from Trae Berhow. Last season the 6-5 senior made 70 three-pointers at a 44.6 percent clip. On the year he tallied 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds. Austin Phyfe is the other returning starter and the big man who roams the paint. Phyfe had a breakout sophomore season, averaging 11.2 points and a team high 8.2 rebounds. Those three form a great nucleus for Coach Ben Jacobson, but the key for this team will be getting production from the rest of the roster. Senior Tywhon Pickford has been around for a long time and is a great glue guard who will play tough defense and hit the glass. Sophomores Noah Carter, Antwan Kimmons and James Betz did not see much playing time as freshmen, but they will be asked to do a lot more in 2020-2021. Northern Iowa also brings in four true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen. If the Panthers can find the pieces to fill around Green, Berhow and Phyfe, this will be a team that can win the MVC. If not, their lack of depth and inexperience will keep Northern Iowa from reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 2016.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.2 (68th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.7 (49, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (16, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.8 (111, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.3 (27, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.9 (7, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.9 (31, 1)
Rebound Margin: 7.0 (13, 1)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (247, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.0 (76, 3)