Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Wyoming Cowboys and Northern Iowa Panthers get together in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon at Key Arena.
Awaiting the winner will be either 13th-seeded UC-Irvine or fourth-seeded Louisville.
Wyoming earned the 12 seed in the East Region by going 25-9 this season, which included an 11-7 mark in Mountain West Conference action. The Cowboys won the MWC Tournament title by upsetting San Diego State last Saturday, 45-43, and they enter this contest riding a four-game win streak. With regard to their involvement in this event, UW is in for the first time since 2002 and the 15th time overall. The Pokes are 9-19 in the tourney, and they have one national championship to their credit (1943).
Along with Wichita State, Northern Iowa kept the Missouri Valley Conference in the national spotlight for much of the season. The Panthers, who are the fifth seed in the region, logged a 30-3 record, which included a 16-2 league ledger. They won the MVC Tournament title by virtue of their 69-60 triumph over Illinois State on March 8, and they enter this fray having won three in a row and 19 of their last 20 games overall. UNI is in the Big Dance for the seventh time in its history, and owns a record of 3-6.
Wyoming is 3-1 all-time against Northern Iowa, but the Panthers picked up their lone victory in the last meeting, a 72-54 home win on Dec. 23, 2009.
Despite the presence of a pair of solid scorers in Larry Nance, Jr. (16.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Josh Adams (13.1 ppg, 3.5 apg), Wyoming is one of the weakest offensive teams around, netting a mere 61.7 ppg. The Cowboys do however, bring it on defense by allowing a mere 56.0 ppg, which ranks as the eighth-lowest yield in the nation entering the NCAA Tournament. The team is pretty much even in both rebounding and turnover differential, and while it outshoots the opposition in general (.462 to .401), the 3-point shot doesn't fall at the rate the Pokes would like (.323). They are 70.7 percent accurate at the free- throw line.
Northern Iowa has had a similar season as Wyoming, at least statistically speaking, as the team produces 65.4 ppg while permitting only 52.2 ppg, the latter ranking it No. 4 nationally. The Panthers are shooting 48.3 percent from the floor, which includes a stellar 39.7 percent showing beyond the arc, with their best player, Seth Tuttle, hitting 42.9 percent of his long-range launches en route to 15.3 ppg. Tuttle is also the club's top rebounder with 6.8 per contest, and it primary playmaker with 3.3 apg. Foes are connecting on only 39.1 percent of their field goal attempts, and that encompasses a 31.6 percent effort from distance. No other players on the roster is averaging more than 7.7 ppg (Wes Washpun).