I chat on Mondays and Fridays around lunch time.
TEXAS CAN'T GET FAROKHMANESHED!! ... Speaking of chatting, I chatted with Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson today on a conference call, and he said, "This group has earned the right to believe they're going to win" Friday against 6th-seeded Texas in Oklahoma City.
The last time UNI was in Oklahoma City in the NCAA tourney was 2010, when a bracket-buster named Ali Farokhmanesh let fly a 3-point shot that beat then-No. 1 seeded Kansas en route to the Sweet 16.
"Different team, obviously," said Jacobson, who has been the coach at Northern Iowa since 2006.
But Jacobson said his team has been "playing with a chip on its shoulder the past six weeks, as if we've got something to prove," and I expect that will continue. UNI has won 12 of its last 13 games, including the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Northern Iowa presents some headaches for Texas in terms of length and skill on the perimeter with sophomore, 6-4 G Matt Bohannon (11.8 ppg and 40.8 percent from 3PT), senior, 6-6 G Paul Jesperson (10.7 ppg and 39.1 percent from 3PT) and junior, 6-5 G Jeremy Morgan (10.4 ppg and 40 percent from 3PT).
UNI has size down low in 6-10, sophomore Bennett Koch (7.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg). But Koch is not a terribly physical presence.
The guy who makes it all go for the Panthers is lefty, fifth-year senior PG Wes Washspun, who is only 6-foot-1 and not much of a 3-point shooter but averages 14.3 ppg and is simply a great floor general.
In terms of matchups, UNI presents some problems for Texas on the perimeter, but the Longhorns should present big problems for UNI down low.
THE BOTTOM LINE: UNI is not a very good rebounding team (30 rpg).
With Cam Ridley possibly going 15 to 20 minutes Friday, according to Shaka Smart on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday, along with Prince Ibeh - as long as Ibeh starts playing like the B12 Defensive Player Of The Year - Texas (35 rpg) needs to control the backboards and the paint.
Limit UNI to one shot per possession while getting offensive rebounds and buying some second-chance points, and then get out in transition and be the ones to beat the other team down the floor.
In recent losses to Baylor and Kansas, Texas' transition offense and defense has been poor.
The Horns don't need UNI to pull an Ari Farokhmanesh on them in OKC Friday night.
SCARY THOUGHT: My Final Four is ... Michigan State, Kansas, Xavier and ... Texas A&M.
Perhaps I just put the Kiss of Death on them.
IN LONGHORNS/NFL NEWS...
* Great to see Derrick Johnson, the all-time leading tackler in Kansas City, re-up with the Chiefs for three years and $21 million.
* Also good to see Michael Griffin get a one-year, $2.5 million deal ($750,000 guaranteed) in Minnesota with my man Mike Zimmer.
* Keenan Robinson has signed a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the New York Giants.
* Colt McCoy re-upped in Washington with a three-year, $9 million deal that includes a $1.8 million signing bonus.
* Henry Melton, who had a one-year deal in Tampa last year for $3.75 million, is still a free agent - as are Sam Acho, who had a one-year deal in Chicago last season, and Emmanuel Acho, who played for the Eagles each of the past two seasons.
DONNIE DUNCAN WILL BE MISSED ... Heart-breaking news over the weekend about the passing from cancer of college football patriarch Donnie Duncan, who helped form the Big 12 with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds in 1996, when Duncan was the AD at Oklahoma.
Please watch the video included in this link of what coaches like Mack Brown, Barry Switzer and especially Ruffin McNeill had to say about Duncan, who clearly cared passionately for the game of college football and its coaches.
Duncan was a coach at Navarro Junior College, when Switzer hired him as an assistant who was a part of two OU national titles, before moving on to become head coach at Iowa State in 1979, where he hired a young assistant named Mack Brown. Brown was Duncan's offensive coordinator at ISU in 1980-81 after one season as WR coach.
Duncan was executive director of the Sun and Gator bowls before becoming AD at OU and later the senior associate commissioner of the Big 12 until his retirement in 2010.
I had a chance to talk to Duncan at the Texas-OU game last fall. He was really struggling with oral cancer and said it was too painful to bite down on food. He told me wanted to live through January, when he was honored at the National Football Foundation dinner in New York. He made it and got to see how beloved he was by all of those in the college football community.
Duncan was all about people and helping others - and he will truly be missed.
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