Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 1/29/14
Evansville Purple Aces (10-11) at Northern Iowa Panthers (10-10)
College Basketball: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm (McLeod Center)
The Line: Northern Iowa Panthers -12 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds
The Northern Iowa Panthers will attempt to stay undefeated at home this season as they welcome the Evansville Aces in a Missouri Valley Conference battle at the McLeod Center on Wednesday night.
Northern Iowa can’t be happier to return home after losing back to back road games against a couple mediocre teams in the league in Bradley and Loyola (Chi.) In those games, though they shot pretty well, they surrendered 48% and 56% shooting from the floor. There is not much else that one can point to as a factor in those losses. The problem for the Panthers all season has been winning on the road, as they have just 1 win. The Panthers are led by the trio of juniors, Deon Mitchell (12.7 ppg), Seth Tuttle (13.8 ppg), and Nate Buss (11 ppg), who seem to always be found as scoring leaders on the stat sheet with every game. The Panthers are shooting 46% from the field, 34% from 3-point land, and 72% from the free throw line. Just a week ago it seemed this team was one of the 3 best in the conference, but you have to win some on the road in the league. Coach Ben Jacobsen has done a great job in his 8 seasons at the helm at UNI, but this year has been frustrating to say the least.
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The Evansville Aces are coming off a home victory over Bradley on Sunday afternoon 66-60. Typical of the Aces this year, they shot nearly 50% from the field, but the difference really came from the charity stripe, where they hit 27 of 33. The offense is based on screens to get guys open for high percentage shots. DJ Balentine is leading all scorers at 22 ppg, and really is as pure a shooter as it gets. You can not give him an opening or he will take advantage of a slack defense. Junior center Egidiju Mockevicius contributes on the inside, but still nobody is a big post-up threat on the team. The Aces shoot 48% from the floor, 37% on 3-pointers, and 71% from the free throw line. They are just 2-7 on the road and 1-3 in road conference games – the lone win coming at last-place Southern Illinois.
The Panthers have already roughed up the Aces on their own home court a few weeks ago by 28 points. The Aces have improved quite a bit since then and have been competitive even in their losses since. While I see a fairly easy win for UNI, I have to go with the points that Evansville is being given. I think that big loss earlier has a lot to do with the massive spread.