Illinois-Chicago (18-15) at Northern Iowa (19-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 23, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McLeod Center (6,650) -- Cedar Falls, Iowa. Television: None. CIT Record: Illinois-Chicago 1-0, Northern Iowa 2-1. Series Record: Illinois-Chicago leads, 11-10.
GAME NOTES: Second-round action in the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament carries on Saturday evening, as the Northern Iowa Panthers entertain the Illinois-Chicago Flames at the McLeod Center.
UNI, which is trying to extend its run of 20-win seasons to five in a row, needs to pick up a victory in this meeting in order to make that happen. After bowing out of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament with a 73-65 setback against Illinois State on March 8, the team accepted an invitation to this event and turned around earlier this week to post a 77-66 win over North Dakota.
With the victory versus UND, the Panthers are now one game shy of setting a new school record for home wins, currently showing a mark of 14-3 in 2012-13.
As for the Flames, a team which has a total of only four wins since the end of January, they actually won their first-round matchup in the Horizon League Tournament against Cleveland State (82-59) before bowing to Green Bay (64-63). Despite the early exit and the rough road over the last several weeks, UIC was still extended an invite to this event and responded with an 80-69 triumph versus Chicago State three nights ago.
These teams have met 21 times previously, with the Flames clinging to an 11-10 advantage thanks to an 84-77 victory versus the Panthers in the Windy City in the most recent matchup back in 2008-09.
The winner of this meeting will head to the quarterfinals against an opponent to be determined.
Against the Chicago State Cougars, UIC produced a 22-point halftime lead before holding on for the 12-point victory in their own building. Daniel Barnes led four starters in double figures with 22 points, shooting 6-of-11 behind the 3-point line, while also clearing a game-high 10 rebounds. Josh Crittle came up a carom shy of his own double-double as he accounted for 17 points, as well as six assists, while Hayden Humes posted 15 points before fouling out. Gary Talton shot a dismal 1-of-10 from the floor, but his 9-of-10 showing at the free-throw line pushed him to 12 points, to go with eight assists.
Although he is shooting just 38.1 percent from the floor this season, including 29.6 percent beyond the arc, Talton is still a leader for the Flames with 12.5 ppg and a team-best 147 assists. Barnes is responsible for 12.2 ppg, followed by Crittle (10.5 ppg) and Humes (10.4 ppg) as the team outscores the competition by a scant 0.4 ppg.
With 57.1 percent efficiency from the floor in the first half, including 7- of-13 behind the 3-point line, the Panthers jumped all over UND on Wednesday, leading by 13 points at the break and as many as 19 in the second half before settling in for the 11-point victory. Anthony James scored a game-high 24 points for the hosts, followed by Seth Tuttle and Marc Sonnen with 19 points apiece, while the reserves accounted for only five points compared to 25 by North Dakota's backups.
Sporting a balanced scoring attack that features four double-digit scorers, the Panthers are paced by James with his 13.1 ppg, while Tuttle (10.9 ppg) hits on 56.3 percent of his field goal attempts and is tied for the team lead with 6.5 rpg. Sonnen (10.6 ppg) and Jake Koch (10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) complete the list of crucial contributors for a program producing 66.4 ppg on the season and giving up 61.9 ppg.
Talton is a talent who can lead the Flames to victory, but if he has another poor shooting game from the floor then that will make it that much easier for the Panthers to advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 71, Illinois-Chicago 62
03/23 10:38:07 ET