Last, but certainly not least- after the wonderful job the Valley did hosting the Final Four last year, I have nothing but respect for them.
Who? The Panthers of Northern Iowa.
Where? Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Kurt Warner stocked shelves before that whole NFL thing happened.
When? Sunday the 14th in St. Charles, MO.
How? Lizzie Boeck put up 19 points and the Panthers edged Creighton 54-53.
Upset? Sure was. The Panthers took out top-seeded Illinois State before beating second-seeded Creighton. (Apparently Redbirds and Bluejays are the natural prey of the Panther.)
The Valley prides itself on its basketball- both men's and women's.
Sophomore guard Jacqui Kalin's 14.5 points lead the Panthers, as she drains it from downtown at a 36.1% clip. Junior forward Erin Brocka is the team's leading rebounder at 7.8 per game. Junior guard Lizzie Boeck is second in both categories with 12.0 points and 6.2 rebounds. If Northern Iowa is able to get a lead late in their tournament game, they've got good chances of holding it; of the eight players who play more than ten minutes per game, seven shoot better than 70% from the line, led by Kalin's 89.7%. Looking at their high-score totals from the season, it looks like the younger players have come of age late in this season; they relied heavily on the seniors early, but the younger players came on late. Other than defensively, where they give up better than 40% shooting, I'm not seeing any bad numbers to explain the 17-15 record.
Out of conference, their record is uninspiring; their best wins are against Butler and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Two four-game losing streaks will haunt them in seeding, because though it might be a Valley-Big East match, this is still not a good year to lose to Louisville by 28, and it's been a while since there was a good year to lose to Missouri by 17.