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Northern Iowa @ Arkansas Preview

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NCAA Basketball: Mercer at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Iowa @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: Northern Iowa Panthers
Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Time: 7:00PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network +
All-Time Series: First Matchup

The Panthers (1-2)

Northern Iowa for many years was a powerhouse in the Missouri Valley, but that has changed over the last 5 years. Ben Jacobson is still the head coach and this is his 16th year at UNI. The Panthers have started this season with 2 losses at home to other mid-major schools. Vermont always has a good program and beat them by 14. The loss was to Nicholls State was surprising though. UNI has dealt with some injuries early. Bowen Born started the first game, but missed the last 2. He should be back for the game on Wednesday. This is a team built to be good this year. Last year was a struggle, but they return all 5 starters from a year ago. That is a rare thing in mid-major basketball since the explosion of the transfer portal.

Eric Musselman isn’t losing faith in UNI and what he has seen on tape. “Very well coached...They’re an NCAA Tournament caliber team....They are really good.” Musselman said on Monday.

Junior guard A.J. Green was named the preseason Missouri Valley player of the year. He missed season, but still earned that honor. He’s a very talented player.

Austin Phyfe is a big man with many talents as can really pass the ball well and has been very efficient from the floor shooting 71.4%.

NIU will run a lot of dribble hand offs and pick & roll on offense. Arkansas has struggled defending the 3 and UNI has a few guys that will look to take advantage of that. Noah Carter, Drew Daniel, and Antwan Kimmons are all shooting over 40% from three on the young season. The Panthers will try to take advantage of this weakness from the Arkansas defense.

A big key for UNI will be hanging tough on the boards. They don’t have much size overall so they must limit 2ndchance opportunities for Arkansas.

The Razorbacks (2-0)

Eric Musselman was pretty clear in Saturday’s post-game presser that he was unhappy with the 2nd unit’s play in the final 8 minutes in the game against Gardner-Webb. They were outscored by 14 to end that game. He mentioned how he believes his rotation is close to being set. Given the amount of veterans on this team, it will be interesting to see how some players respond to limited playing time.

Arkansas needs to play a complete game on Wednesday night. They’ll take on Kansas State in Kansas City next week so this is the last chance to get right before the competition takes a step up. The Hogs have struggled for portions of both regular season games so far. Muss is still figuring how the pieces will fit together. We need to see this team defend the 3 a lot better than it has so far.

Jaylin Williams is averaging 5 assists a game to start the season. It’s been awesome to see him develop into a facilitator for others. Northern Iowa has just 3 blocks total in 3 games. They are a team with a lack of rim protection. Arkansas should look to get to the basket early and often against this team. The Razorbacks moved the ball extremely well on Saturday. We’ll see if they can keep that up as they build towards their first real test of the year.

Prediction: Arkansas 81, Northern Iowa 60