Gameday Pick ‘em #25: Northern Iowa (18-6; 11-1, 1st in MVC)
“Coach, players say wins over CU, SIU fuel streak” (OWH)
“Stinnett says players’ workout habits have done ‘a total 180’” (OWH)
The following are just a few statements or thoughts that, during the course of recent Creighton basketball history, I’m not sure I ever thought I’d write:
- I thought Drake, last season’s MVC regular season and tournament champions, would be better during their title defense.
- There is a player — any player — in the Missouri Valley Conference who wears a Mohawk.
- I sure miss Evansville’s sleeves.
- Southern Illinois might finish the regular season at or below .500.
- Dana Altman doesn’t call the backcourt handoff play between our post player attempting to set a screen and a guard turning with the ball and trying to make a play nearly enough anymore.
- Creighton is an underdog for their fifth straight trip to Cedar Falls to play league-leading Northern Iowa.
The last time Vegas favored the Jays during a trip to central Iowa to take on the Panthers was in 2003-2004, when Creighton’s undefeated season and national ranking went to the wayside thanks to freshman Brooks McKeown and the rest of the sharpshooting gents in Purple and Yellow.
That was the last time UNI beat Creighton. Unless you count what happened a few weeks ago, when Ben Jacobsen’s well-coached and extremely balanced bunch of Panthers came to The Phone Booth and staked an early claim to what now looks like an impressive run to the front of the MVC regular season title chase.
Fine. You got me. I’ll be the first to admit that while I knew the Jays wouldn’t have an easy time laying claim to the MVC title just because they were the preseason pick (such an event rarely occurs), I didn’t expect to see the Fancy Felines licking their chops both at home and on the road this far into the Valley play.
And while I am thoroughly impressed by both the statistical equilibrium struck by the many important players who log minutes for UNI, I am by no means overwhelmed with haunting images of past Panther victories (unlike, for instance, the ghastly glances to the past I have to make every time the Jays get ready to take on SIU).
A few weeks ago I didn’t think I would say this, but I like our team better than theirs. Call it beating up on teams in the bottom half of the MVC if you must, but I think CU has made some strides in the departments of energy and effort in the past 10 days. Couple that with our ability to score in bunches when we’re on and play really good defense when we want to, and I like our chances with them two out of three times.
Unfortunately, beating them two out of three times might be what it takes for the Jays to go dancing this year. Again, something I wouldn’t have dreamt writing in the past couple of seasons.
Creighton Otter: Booker Woodfox (14)
Dance Cam Guy: Justin Carter (18)
Panon: Woodfox (19)
Mrs. Creighton Otter: P'Allen Stinnett (15)
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Woodfox (20)
Creighton Otter: Jays by 3
Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 9
Panon: Panthers by 4
Mrs. Creighton Otter: Jays by 2
Mrs. Dance Cam Guy: Jays by 5