North Carolina (3-0) vs. Northern Iowa (1-1)
Cedar Falls, Iowa – McLeod Center
Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
ESPN3 (Scott Warmann, Rich Zvosec)
"We've got the No. 1 team in the country coming in here. People are not going to need a little pep talk to get ready to go. It's not very often we have teams like that come into the McLeod. We're going to be ready for them.” – UNI senior wing Paul Jesperson
“We have played against teams that have been ranked inside the top 10 and inside the top 20 and a handful of the guys on our team have been in those games. That helps, no question.” – UNI head coach Ben Jacobson
Season to Date: Northern Iowa enters Saturday’s contest with a 1-1 record. Head coach Ben Jacobson’s squad dropped its opener to Colorado State, 84-78, on Saturday before topping Stephen F. Austin, 70-60, on Tuesday. The Panthers return two starters from last season’s 31-4 squad and were picked third in the preseason MVC poll.
Guard Play: Roughly 67 percent of Northern Iowa’s points through two games have come courtesy of its starting backcourt. Junior Jeremy Morgan (17.0 ppg) scored a career-high 20 points in the season opener, while senior Wes Washpun is averaging 16.5 points and 5.0 assists per game. Senior guard Matt Bohannon, who played high school ball with Marcus Paige, ranks fourth on UNI’s all-time made 3-pointer list (181) and is adding 16.0 points per game. That triumvirate is shooting 57.6 percent from the floor, including 39.3 percent from long range (11-of-28).
Board Work: Despite an eight-man rotation with just two players taller than 6-foot-6 – and only one in the starting lineup – UNI has outrebounded its first two opponents. The Panthers have been especially effective on the defensive glass, ranking 23rd nationally in opponents’ offensive rebounding percentage (19.4), according to kenpom.com. UNI ranked 28th in that statistic last season.
Familiar Face: Senior wing Paul Jesperson spent his first two years playing college ball at Virginia for Tony Bennett. The 6-foot-6, 206-pounder sat out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules and played in all 35 games last season, averaging 5.9 points on 48.3 percent shooting. He’s averaging 10.0 points per game this season. Jesperson is the lone Panther to have played against UNC, totaling 19 points in four games as a Cavalier.
Home Success vs. Ranked Foes: Northern Iowa is 11-6 against ranked opponents at home, including three of its last four. Nine of those home victories have occurred during Jacobson’s tenure, which dates back to 2001-02.
Series History: This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
20 Jeremy Morgan (6-5, 199, Jr.) – 17.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg
11 Wes Washpun (6-1, 175, Sr.) - 16.5 ppg, 5.0 apg
05 Matt Bohannon (6-4, 198, Sr.) - 16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
04 Paul Jesperson (6-6, 206, Sr.) - 10.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg
25 Bennett Koch (6-10, 235, So.) - 4.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
01 Aarias Austin (6-4, 180, Jr.) - 7.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
33 Wyatt Lohaus (6-2, 185, So.) - 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
(Photo by USA Today Sports)