The New Season

Today at 2:30, the Rose Garden will host my favorite basketball team versus the Northern Iowa Panthers...If you're reading, you probably already know that Chris Kramer needs to stay out of foul trouble...The Ostrich needs to get into his rhythm and attack the glass...LewJack needs to play under control...KG needs to continue shooting a la KG of 2008...JJ & Smooge need to exert their will...and Nemmy needs to not do so behind the arc!

All joking aside, in spite of NI playing in the less-respected MVC, anyone can beat anyone in this tournament...Matty knows that- the question is, has he conveyed that effectively to the team? Hopefully, they're still hungry and humble in spite of EsPN's complimentary tone toward them...and the fact that around 90% of those filling out their own brackets think Purdue will win.

This time of year is the most-enjoyable one for me...and probably the players as well. But, nothing is less-enjoyable than being the top-story on all of the sports outlets because you were upset and helped create a Cinderella story.

Who to watch
Kwadzo Ahelegbe (#11), like Purdue's Sophomores, is counted on for a lot of output. He averages almost 12 points and over 3 assists...Ali Farokhmanesh (#5), a slightly shorter guard, has been one of the main offensive threats for the Panthers all season. He's a JuCo transfer who averages just under 10 points/gm and makes the team go (and he is the best three-point shooter on the team). Adam Koch (#34), a 6'8" forward, will probably draw the attention of Robbie Hummel. He's a 6'8" Junior who averages over 12 points, and 5 assists. But, their most noteworthy, and maybe most capable player is their quite large big man named Jordan Eglseder (#53). He's significantly larger than JJ, both in height and weight at 7'1" and nearly 300lbs. He averages over 10 points a game and 6.5 rebounds.

As you can see, this team's a lot like Purdue in that they're well-balanced and have multiple weapons capable of filling it up. And like Purdue, this team dominated their post-season all-confernce tournament team and had a lot of guys win awards for the reglar season accolades as well. And their coach, Jacobson was COTY for the MVC. They're also similar to Purdue in the fact that they rely heavily on the three point shot to help their offense

But, they haven't been successful versus the Big Ten. NIU is 8-36 versus opponents out of Purdue's conference...most of those games (38) were played versus Iowa. And speaking of those Lichlighter-coached Hawks, they beat NIU by 19 points at Iowa earlier this season. They also lost to fellow opponent Indiana State by one point at ISU. In the meat of their season, they won 12-straight conference games. But, they ended their season much like our Boilers, losing 4 of their last 7 regular season games before winning their conference tourney.

While I hope Purdue hasn't been reading their own press clippings, I definitely hope the Panthers have been reading about Purdue. Purdue is a good team who, hopefully, continues to get better...and unlike most of NIU's players, most of Purdue's guys have been here before...Here's to that being made obvious later today.

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