DePaul Blue Demons vs. Northern Iowa Panthers – Friday, November 20th, Noon Central – St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
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After a season opening 59-53 win over Columbia, DePaul can now set their sight on the Paradise Jam tournament.
Early season tournaments are now a staple in college basketball as teams look to replicate the neutral-court and limited rest setting that a conference tournament gives them. It also doesn't hurt to leave Chicago for the Virgin Islands.
The tournament will feature programs like Tennessee, Boston College, Purdue, East Carolina, South Dakota State, St. Joseph's and DePaul's first round opponent, Northern Iowa.
Although Northern Iowa is a mid-major program, their team can compete with anybody in any game. After a sluggish 6-6 start to last season, the Panthers reeled off 11 consecutive wins on their way to a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament victory and an NCAA Tournament bid.
Northern Iowa returns all five starters from that team and is looking to build on last season's success. They opened the season with a 71-65 road win over Denver.
They are led by senior forward Adam Koch who was a first team all Missouri Valley performer and junior guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe, a second team all Missouri Valley player.
Koch shot 48% from the field and 77% from the free throw line while Ahelegbe is a team leader on the floor who provides athleticism.
The Panthers also return senior guard Ali Farokhmanesh, who is an effective outside shooter and sophomore guard Johnny Moran, who leads the Panthers in steals and plays with tremendous intensity.
In the middle, Jordan Eglseder is a 7-1 presence that led the Panthers in blocked shots. While Eglseder looks big and lumbering he also has a nice touch and can shoot jump shots out to the three-point line.
While Eglseder could be a matchup problem for DePaul, he also averaged only 19 minutes a game last season, as conditioning became a factor for him in some contests.
Northern Iowa's biggest strength is their balance. They return all five starters and Missouri Valley Sixth Man of the Year Lucas O'Rear. All of their starters also averaged between 8.4 and 12.1 points a game. While one or two players may struggle, others will pick up the slack, making the Panthers dangerous on offense.
DePaul must play solid half court defense and limit possessions to one shot if they want to stay in the game with Northern Iowa.
It might also benefit the Demons to utilize the athleticism of Mac Koshwal. Eglseder simply can't run as well as Koshwal and DePaul might look to run off of defensive rebounds to beat the big man down court.
It was hard to tell much about this year's DePaul team after the game against Columbia, but the Paradise Jam will be a good indicator of what this team can do against solid competition. Now that final exams are finished, the Blue Demons have a chance to focus on basketball for the next month as they prepare for the Big East conference play.
Northern Iowa Roster
No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Cl. Hometown/High School/Last College
5 Farokhmanesh, Ali 6-0 190 G SR Iowa City, Iowa/West/Kirkwood CC
10 Haak, Brian 6-1 175 G SR Spencer, Iowa/Spencer
11 Ahelegbe, Kwadzo 6-2 200 G JR Oakdale, Minn./Tartan
13 Moran, Johnny 6-1 190 G SO Algonquin, Ill./Jacobs
20 Koch, Jake 6-9 255 F RS FR Ashwaubenon, Wis./Ashwaubenon
21 Morrison, Matt 6-0 175 G FR Solon, Iowa/Solon
22 Dunham, Kerwin 6-6 200 G JR Bondurant, Iowa/Bondurant-Farrar
23 Sonnen, Marc 6-3 185 G FR St. Paul, Minn./Tartan
32 O'Rear, Lucas 6-6 255 F JR Nashville, Ill./Nashville
33 Pehl, Austin 6-10 245 C RS FR Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls
34 Koch, Adam 6-8 255 F SR Ashwaubenon, Wis./Ashwaubenon
40 Lange, Tyler 6-6 210 F FR Sac City, Iowa/Urbandale
43 Rodenberg, Adam 6-6 245 F SR Garnavillo, Iowa/Clayton Ridge/UC Irvine
52 James, Anthony 6-0 175 G RS FR St. Louis, Mo./Normandy
53 Eglseder, Jordan 7-0 280 C SR Bellevue, Iowa/Marquette
DePaul vs. Northern Iowa Game Preview
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