Northern Iowa (1-1) vs. Milwaukee (2-2)
U.S. Cellular Arena – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Home is where the heart is. After 5,000 miles of plane rides, the Milwaukee Panthers get to finally play at home against their fellow Panthers from the University of Northern Iowa.
Yup, that UNI. The Panthers, on the shoulders of Ali Faroukmanesh, dropped Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to make their first Sweet 16 in Division I (they went to the College Division or D-II Final Four in 1962). Faroukmanesh is gone. So is Jordan Egleseder, as is Adam Koch.
But some familiar faces are still there. Or rather, familiar mutton chops. Lucas O’Rear, the MVC’s Sixth Man of the Year last season, moved into the starting lineup this season and has been consistent. He’ll be needed on the block more than he was last year; with the losses of Egleseder and Koch, the Panthers have to replace 60% of their shot blocking from the Sweet 16 team.
Kwadzo Ahelegbe is the key returning senior for UNI. The senior scored 10.6 ppg last season and figures to be a leader in buckets this year.
As for now, however, that goes to redshirt sophomore Anthony James. The Panther score 12 points in just 19 minutes at Syracuse and leads UNI at 15 ppg.
Prediction: Panthers win.