I know you may look at this headline, and you may think that it is crazy, and that both of the teams mentioned have had nice runs, but it's time for the Syracuse's and the Kentucky's of the college basketball world to step up to their rightful platform. But I am here to make you think otherwise.
When events like an Ali Farokhmanesh three that beat Kansas, and Cornell's blowouts against two elite teams, you know that what you are watching is for real.
Northern Iowa, who has five seniors, has been a very consistent team all year beating teams like Siena, Boston College, Old Dominion, and two other power conference schools. In addition they defeated UNLV and Kansas in the NCAA tournament, and haven't lost in over a month.
Their defense is deadly, allowing just 55 points a game. This should favor them well in their next game, Michigan St., who relies a lot on their offense.
Northern Iowa has a complement of three players who average in double figures which includes Jordan Eglseder, Adam Koch, and Kwadzo Ahelegbe.
They should be able to beat MSU because Michigan St. does not have Kalin Lucas. For a team that loses a lot of offense against such a defense-heavy team in Northern Iowa, the Panthers should find themselves dancing their way to the Elite Eight.
I could continue to preview every game, but then I would become a broken record. That is because the real key to Northern Iowa is to continue to play their game. Play the same game. They stuck to their game plan the past two games and they find themselves in a great position here.
And a couple three pointers from Ali Farokhmanesh couldn't hurt.
For Cornell, who has eight players graduating, the key is the three. They shoot 43% from there, and that will have to continue in order to beat Kentucky. They will also need to apply defensive pressure. This doesn't mean that they have to keep the game under 60. A score in the 65-75 point range would favor the Big Red.
Cornell comes into what will essentially be a home game with ultimate confidence and with nothing to lose. No one expects them to go out and beat Kentucky, and so their mindset is, "Let's have fun".
Said Louis Dale after their win over Wisconsin: "We've got eight seniors on this team, and we want to take this ride as long as we can because after this it's just nothing babies and memories, so we'll just keep going."
Yes, that quote was meant as a joke. His teammates made him do it, as it is a quote from their favorite movie, "Friday Night Lights". However, the whole spirit of the team is lighthearted. They're smiling on the bench, and their scoring at will from wherever, and whenever.
This team is no fluke, they are as ESPN.com's Andy Katz says the "David" in this matchup of Goliath Kansas.
So although it isn't likely that we have a Panthers vs. Big Red final, it is possible. It wasn't likely that either team would still be here standing now, and yet they still have a shot. So don't write off the Cinderella yet, because in this tournament, anything is possible.
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