Southern Illinois (13-18) vs. Northern Iowa (16-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 7, 9:35 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (22,000) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: MVC TV, FSN-MW. Home Record: SIU 9-5, UNI 11-2. Away Record: SIU 3-11, UNI 3-10. Neutral Record: SIU 1-2, UNI 2-2. Conference Record: SIU 9-9, UNI 10-8. Series Record: Southern Illinois leads, 30-24.
GAME NOTES: The final quarterfinal-round game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament will take place between the sixth-seeded Southern Illinois Salukis and the third-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers at the Scottrade Center.
The winner will advance to Saturday's semifinals to play either Indiana State or Loyola-Chicago.
Although SIU's season as a whole has been largely a disappointment at 13-18, it was able to turn things around in the MVC with a solid 9-9 league mark. The Salukis are heading into the tournament on the upswing with wins in three of their last four, most recently downing Illinois State at home in the regular- season finale last Saturday, 66-65.
UNI also ended the regular season on a high note, winning its last three games and five of its last six to catapult all the way to third place at 10-8 in conference action. The Panthers edged out Indiana State on Saturday, 71-69, to improve to 16-14 overall.
The Panthers defeated SIU on their home floor on Feb. 26, 73-54, to avenge a 68-66 loss in Carbondale back on Jan. 14. SIU holds a 30-24 advantage in the all-time series versus UNI.
In a game that consisted of 11 ties and 11 lead changes, SIU had the final say over Illinois State in the regular-season finale as Tyler Smithpeters drained the game-winning 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to lift it to the one-point victory. Although the squad shot just 39.6 percent from the floor, compared to 45.7 percent for ISU, it earned extra possessions by dominating the rebounding battle, 43-21. Anthony Beane paced the effort with 21 points, Desmar Jackson added 18 points and seven rebounds and Smithpeters was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc for 11 points.
Although the Salukis shoot an impressive 45.9 percent from the field this season, that has resulted in only 67.3 ppg, which has spoiled a strong effort on the defensive end of the court (67.4 ppg). Jackson is the unquestioned catalyst with team highs in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (5.5 rpg) and steals (2.4 spg) all while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 78.5 percent at the free-throw line. Beane (14.6 ppg) and Jalen Pendleton (9.3 ppg) are in the midst of stellar campaigns as well.
The Panthers were also locked up in a tight battle their last time out, fighting through eight ties and 18 lead changes prior to the game-winning bucket by Seth Tuttle with 3:42 left. They were outshot from the field by Indiana State, 48.1 percent to 41 percent, but they shot 10-of-25 from 3-point range and won the turnover battle, 10-5. Tuttle finished with a game-high 23 points, shooting 9-of-12 from the field. Nate Buss knocked down all four of his long-range attempts, tallying a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Deon Mitchell netted 10 points.
On the season, UNI has been solid on both ends of the floor, shooting 45.4 percent from the field for 73.3 ppg, while allowing 69.5 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting, and it has also been active from beyond the arc with 8.7 3-pointers per game at a 36.6 percent clip. Tuttle mans the paint with 15.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 1.0 bpg while making field goals at 52.4 percent efficiency. Mitchell scores 12.3 ppg and hands out 3.4 apg, while Buss (10.7 ppg) and Matt Bohannon (10.0 ppg) also net in double figures.
After each team won on its home floor in the regular-season series, the playing field will be evened on a neutral floor in this one. Expect the surging Panthers to continue their hot streak however, and advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Iowa 70, Southern Illinois 67
03/07 10:35:41 ET