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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Location: Chicago, Illinois
Saturday, February 15, 2020 7:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.


Even well before conference play began, it was apparent that Loyola's home game against Northern Iowa was going to be a hot ticket. When the Panthers knocked off Colorado on the road to go to 9-1 on the season, attention swung to UNI as the conference front-runner as preseason favorite Missouri State struggled, and excitement over Evansville's upset of Kentucky faded. The Panthers have met or exceeded expectations set in the preseason, and the Ramblers improved after early season stumbles and injuries. And now here we are, with Gentile Arena sold out for a Saturday night meeting between the top two teams (and perhaps the top two players) in the conference.

Loyola gave UNI a scare on Jan. 26 when the Ramblers rallied from an 11-point deficit to force overtime, but the Panthers dominated in extra time to secure a 67-62 win. Loyola held likely MVC Player of the Year AJ Green to only 14 points on 4 of 12 shooting (he averages 20.2 points per game), but freshman guard Antwan Kimmons tied his career high with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and Austin Phyfe showed significant improvement with his footwork of offense while scoring 14 points.

Ben Jacobson will start four guards and a forward. Six-nine sophomore forward Austin Phyfe is joined by 6'4" sophomore AJ Green, 6'5" junior Trae Berhow, 6'7" senior Isaiah Brown, and 6'1" senior Spencer Haldeman at the guard spots. UNI also has talented players that could be starters on other teams-- like 6'4" junior guard Tywhon Pickford, 6'9" senior forward Luke McDonnell, 7-footer Justin Dahl, 6'6" freshman forward Noah Carter, and 6'0" freshman Kimmons.

Green averages 20.2 points per game to lead the league. He scored 27 last time out against Illinois State and 34 the game before that against Drake. UNI leads the league by far in free throw percentage at 77%, led by Green at 92.2%, Haldeman at 85%, and Berhow at 83.6%. And they also lead the league in three-point field goal percentage by far-- 40.2% as a team-- led by Berhow at 47.4%, Green at 41.4%, and Haldeman at 40.9%.

The Ramblers have to make the game be about their strengths-- interior defense, forcing turnovers, transition baskets, taking high percentage shots, and taking care of the ball. A And Loyola will have to do what they can to disrupt what the league's number one offense (and according to KenPom, the 13th best offense in Division I) does so well-- keep them off the free throw line, fill the passing lanes, guard the outside shooters well past the three point arc, prevent backdoor cuts, and make Phyfe work hard on both ends of the court.

In the recent past, both UNI and Loyola tended to favor a very slow pace with scoring in the high fifties or low sixties-- especially in conference games. This year, the pace both teams thrive on has picked up quite a bit, especially for UNI. The Panthers are 281st in average game tempo (they were between 327-349 every year since the 2014-15 season), and UNI is 5-0 in games played at a tempo of 70 or above (including their OT win over the Ramblers). Loyola is 3-3 in games played at a tempo of 70 or above, but they're also 2-2 in games played at a tempo of 60 or below. Loyola's sweet spot is between 61-69, where the Ramblers are 12-4. Coincidentally, the three games UNI lost were played at 66, 67, and 68. The Ramblers need to dictate the tempo of the game, because UNI actively (and effectively) uses speeding up or slowing teams down as one of their tools to keep the opposition off-balance.



Loyola game notes: https://loyolaramblers.com/documents/20 ... _15_20.pdf

UNI game notes: https://unipanthers.com/documents/2020/ ... la_II_.pdf

TV/Streaming video: ESPN 2 https://www.espn.com/watch?id=3cf7ec73- ... 2dbb2cb2df

Radio/Streaming audio: https://loyolaramblers.com/watch/?Live=28&type=Live

Live stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=280011

Vegas odds: Pick 'em


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:41 pm 
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Sold out Gentile. Top team in conference coming to town (but a team we have been really successful against the last few years). National TV. Can't wait.

Even with a win, given the NET tiebreaker, UNI has the #1 seed largely in hand (they'd have to lose 3 of their last 5 and we would have to win all 5). However, the #2 seed is very important. And confidence that we can beat them--which we can as shown by the fact that we took them to OT at their place in a game that we did not hit play to our full potential (although I am sure they will tell you they didn't either).

Should be a fun one.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:59 pm 
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goramblers2011 wrote:
Even with a win, given the NET tiebreaker, UNI has the #1 seed largely in hand (they'd have to lose 3 of their last 5 and we would have to win all 5). However, the #2 seed is very important. And confidence that we can beat them--which we can as shown by the fact that we took them to OT at their place in a game that we did not hit play to our full potential (although I am sure they will tell you they didn't either).


That's funny... I was going to end the preview with a discussion of Arch Madness seeding implications, and then when I found myself drifting into whether a win over UNI and a good finish could get us into NIT at -large range, I decided to scrap the paragraph.... But feel free to discuss....


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:02 pm 
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Anybody feel like another round of Swella trash talking A.J. Green and Northern Iowa?
I can whip something up if there's any demand.I'm thinking of a pork theme.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:54 pm 
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swellafelon wrote:
Anybody feel like another round of Swella trash talking A.J. Green and Northern Iowa?

UNI has given us some other material for trash talk this week.

https://www.espn.com/mens-college-baske ... -promotion


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:06 pm 
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WestCoastFan wrote:
swellafelon wrote:
Anybody feel like another round of Swella trash talking A.J. Green and Northern Iowa?

UNI has given us some other material for trash talk this week.

https://www.espn.com/mens-college-baske ... -promotion


As if I need more reasons to hate.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:21 pm 
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swellafelon wrote:
Anybody feel like another round of Swella trash talking A.J. Green and Northern Iowa?
I can whip something up if there's any demand.I'm thinking of a pork theme.


Probably the place to begin is with the curious "tic" that AJ Green is spelled without periods. I've heard it's to differentiate between him and a more famous athlete.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:31 pm 
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Image

AJ GREEN, NOT JUST A CHUCKER, BUT A PICKER TOO!



AJ GREEN is a music major specializing in the banjo. For his advanced banjo class he put on a recital at Russell Hall last month, billing himself as The Iowa Caucasian (Riddle: What do you call someone who votes in the Iowa Caucus? An Iowa Caucasian.)
Here is his thematic play list, reflecting his native pride in Iowa leading the nation in pig farms:

Wild Hog in the Woods
Hog-eyed Man
Hog Skin
Hog in the Cane-Break
Hog in the Corn Patch
Hog Went Through the Fence, and
my personal favorite...
Old Blind Sow She Stole the Middlins


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:39 pm 
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Northern Iowa is a great team and they deserve all the accolades they get. They are extremely well coached, they play together, they have star power, and with their three best players, one of them can have a bad game and they can still dominate. They are going to be just as good next year, so this game is round 2 of what I expect will be six between us and them between this year and next year if both teams do what they are supposed to do.

If Loyola wants to have a true conference rival, a win tomorrow will officially start the makings of one. Our team matches up well with them because of our defense, but that will only keep us close.

I think winning this game is going to depend on 2 things: 1) free throws; 2) Tate Hall.

Krutwig is gonna get 14 points, 8 boards. Lucas and Uguak are gonna play great defense, but are gonna suffer for it offensively. Kennedy is gonna burst off the bench and get us 12.

The question is, in a close game, can we hit free throws to keep it close, and can we get someone besides Kennedy and Krut to get us enough points to win. Tate Hall is the obvious person to look to. We’ve seen him have stellar offensive games, but we’ve also seen him non-existent for entire halves. I believe his play is going to be the difference in whether we win this game or lose it.

The atmosphere is going to be crazy! I really hope the whole team shows up. This is the biggest game since Nevada in Gentile.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:01 pm 
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Panther Nation is calling this their biggest game since Wichita left the MVC.


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