Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Biggest Win in Iowa Collegiate History

Confession time. Before tonight, how many casual basketball fans in the state of Iowa knew the name Ali Forokhmanesh? Well, after UNI’s improbable, shock-the-world win against #1 Kansas, that will change forever. Yes, Ali Forokhmanesh is a name that will live among sports legends in the state of Iowa...and the state of Kansas, I’m guessing. Kind of like Bucky Dent in Red Sox Nation. Kansas wasn’t just a #1 seed, they were THE #1 seed, and the top rated team in the country! I know my sports history in the state of Iowa pretty well, and I can’t think of another win in Iowa collegiate history that even comes close to this one. The Iowa Hawkeyes win over Michigan which featured the #1 and #2 college football teams in America in 1985 was pretty big, but it was #1 against #2--it was supposed to be close. And this is the NCAA Tournament—one of the biggest stages in all of collegiate sports. The University of Iowa basketball team had a pretty big win of its own too back in 1980 when Steve Waite had a three point play against Georgetown that catapulted the Hawks into the Final 4. But I still think this one is bigger. Kansas was favored to win the National Championship; UNI was not even on the national radar screen. They sure are now. Here are some final thoughts about UNI’s monster upset over Kansas:

1.How much did Jordan Eglseder improve his NBA draft stock tonight? He was phenomenal.
2.How far can UNI go? They just knocked off #1, so anything’s possible now, right? I think they match up better against Maryland than Michigan State, so hope for a Terps win over Sparty. An Elite 8 match up would most likely be against Ohio State. My prediction is UNI to the Elite 8, then bowing out in a close game against the Buckeyes.
3.The Panthers get to play their next round(s) in St. Louis—the same place they played, and won, the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. This could prove to be a huge advantage for UNI—they’re familiar with the area, they’ve been successful there, and they should draw a good pro-Panther crowd.
4.How much pressure will this win put on Gary Barta at the University of Iowa to hire Panthers Coach Ben Jacobson? A Lot!! There’s no doubt Jacobson’s a good coach, but is he too similar in style to Lickliter and McDermott? The feeling here is "yes," but that win over the nation’s #1 team puts Barta in a precarious situation—definitely one to watch in the next week or two.

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