Team Profile: 2007 BracketBuster Preview: Northern Iowa at Nevada
When the BracketBuster matchups were announced last month, this looked like the second- or third-best behind Butler-SIU. But with UNI’s recent slide in Valley play (four of five L’s, including three at home), the This very last thing Northern Iowa (16-10, 7-8) needs is a cross-country road trip. But they now travel to Reno, Nevada, to face the best All-American candidate Nick Fazekas, and one of the best backcourts west of the Rockies. This game for Nevada (22-2, 10-1) does help its SOS but will hurt its seed should the Wolf Pack fail to win at home. Key Matchup: Nevada’s Nick Fazekas vs. UNI’s Eric Coleman
Eric Coleman is the toughest player in the Missouri Valley Conference and the fact that a 6-foot-6 center can nearly average a double-double is a tribute to the junior’s heart. But Coleman gives up five inches to the best power forward in the country. Coleman has the responsibility to contain Fazekas while scoring at the other end. Not many have enough energy for both jobs (particularly at Reno’s altitude, 4500 feet) and UNI’s zone isn’t going to work when the Wolf Pack’s underrated outside shooters Marcellus Kemp, Ramon Sessions, and Kyle Shiloh step back and hit threes. The only question mark for Nevada might be its chemistry, as announcer Steven Bardo alluded to during the Hawaii telecast earlier in the month, but it looks like Nevada has worked through that, blowing out Fresno State on the road last week.
Prediction: Nevada 85, Northern Iowa 65
Normally, we don’t predict blowouts, but Nevada is THAT good. UNI might be playing its worst basketball of the past three years and Lawlor Events Center is not a likely place for Ben Jacobson & Co. to right the ship.