The Northern Iowa Panthers had one of the signature moments of the first round of the NCAA tournament when they upset the Texas Longhorns with a half-court heave at the buzzer. The perennial mid-major pest will look to continue their Cinderella run against another Lone Star State powerhouse, the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Panthers aren’t known for their offense, yet they shocked the Longhorns (the Big 12‘s best defense) with 75 points on 48 percent shooting.
Northern Iowa has three players who shoot over 40 percent from downtown and four players scoring in double figures for the season, including senior guard Wes Washpun. In his final year, Washpun’s numbers have significantly increased due to more playing time, ranking second in the Missouri Valley Conference in assists.
As difficult a test as the Longhorns were, the Aggies will be even more demanding.
They are one of the most well rounded teams in the country, led by All-SEC First Team performer Jalen Jones. The 6-foot-8 senior shooting guard is averaging 27.1 minutes, 15.4 points, and 7.0 rebounds on 43.2 percent shooting. Jones is vital to the Aggies’ attack and controls their efficient offense, as he has a usage percentage of 29.8 percent.
According to kenpom.com, A&M is 10th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and the three-point shot that Northern Iowa loves so much (they average 21.7 attempts per game) will be a struggle against an Aggies squad that holds opponents to 33 percent from downtown.
For Northern Iowa to pull off another upset, they’re going to need more than just a little magic. The Panthers need to shoot the lights out and contain Jones, something easier said than done.
Prediction: Texas A&M 70, Northern Iowa 61