Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa
Conference: Missouri Valley Conference
Coach: Ben Jacobson
Record: 30-3 (16-2 OVC)
Kenpom ranking: 12
Good wins: vs. Wichita State, vs. Iowa
Bad losses: @ Evansville, @ VCU
Tournament appearances: 7 (most recent: 2010)
Best result: Sweet 16 (2010)
NBA alumni: None
Best name: Robert Knar
Celebrity alumni: NFL MVP Kurt Warner, Senator/bad tweeter Chuck Grassley
Everybody knows Wichita State is the MVC's best team. What UNI presupposes is -- maybe they aren't? Seth Tuttle and the Panthers stunned the Shockers in their first regular season matchup, confidently ending a lengthy WSU conference win streak. And the Panthers hoisted the MVC title after the Shockers were bounced in the semifinals. UNI became famous for Ali Farokhmanesh's miracle upset of Kansas, but this is a legit team, not a Cinderella.
Style of play: King Tut
On most teams, the point guard's job is to start the offense. On UNI, the point guard's job is to get the ball to Seth Tuttle. The 6'8 senior from rural Iowa is talented enough to score himself, but also leads the Panthers in assists. Some Valley teams tried to run box-and-1 or triangle-and-2 to keep him from getting the ball at all.
Key player: More Tuttle
Tuttle is overwhelmingly skilled: Incredible touch around the hoop, spectacular post moves, great passing ability, great dribbling ability, the strength to get boards and range past the three-point line. He was unfair against Missouri Valley Conference big men -- can he do the same against more talented opponents?
A brief interlude
UNI students do a coordinated dance to a electronic-y dance song called "The Interlude" at games. Invented in 2010 by UNI students, its dorky, but awesome when hundreds of fans do it in unison. By our approximations, the steps to the two-minute long dance:
1. Side-to-side swaying 2. Clap 3. Up-and-down arm-swings 4. Wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man 5. More up-down arm-swinging 6. Arm circles 7. Robot dance 8. Shaking imaginary maracas 9. Back to the up-down swings