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Round 2: Northern Iowa

*Plus/Minus for Kansas vs Lehigh is here.

The Background

For KU's second round, they get to face the Northern Iowa Panthers.  Northern Iowa won the regular season going 15-3 in conference play (29-4 overall).  The Panthers rely on a very good defense, 17th in the nation according to KenPom.  Though defense is their strength, the offense isn't non-existent.  They average 1.07 points per possession and they are #71 in KenPom's adjusted offense.  They average only 63.5 points per game.  Northern Iowa plays at a pace slower than everyone else, averaging just under 60 possessions a game.  Get ready to watch them walk the ball up the court and pass it around for 25 seconds without even looking at the basket.  Seriously, they are 342 out of 347 teams.

The Four Factors

The Offense

Effective Field Goal%: (129)  Northern Iowa shoots 47.6% on their two's and 35.7% on three point attempts.  Their scoring mainly comes from four players who all average between 9 and 12 points a game. 

Turnover Percentage: (54) A relatively strong part of their offense is hanging on to the ball.  This shouldn't be too surprising considering their pace.  It's a lot easier to take care of the ball when you're walking it up the court. 

Offensive Rebound%: (198) Northern Iowa isn't a strong offensive rebounding team.  Jordan Egsleder leads them with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game and is 9th in the country for individual offensive rebound percentage.  Cole Aldrich will need to keep him off the glass and stop them from extending their possession longer or getting easy putbacks.

Free Throw Rate: (192) Another stat that isn't too surprising because of their pace.  When you don't attack on defense and stretch out possessions on offense, there just isn't going to be a whole lot of fouls in the game.  Northern Iowa was 3rd to last in Mo. Valley conference play for fouls drawn.


The Defense

Effective Field Goal%: (66) The Panthers allowed a 46.4 eFG% on the year.  That's not outstanding but it's better than average.  They only allowed their opponents to shoot 44% on two point shots this year (41st best in the nation).

Turnover Percentage: (171) They only turned their opponents over on 20% of their possessions.  As long as Kansas doesn't do them any favors, turnovers shouldn't be a problem tomorrow night.

Offensive Rebound%: (13) Here's one of their real strengths.  When you miss a shot against them, they don't let you get it back.  Egsleder is 8th in the nation for defensive rebound percentage (27%) and he gets almost five a game.  Their other rebounders are Adam Koch, Lucas O' Rear, and Kwadzo Ahelegbe.  Hopefully the size and athleticism causes major problems for them.  Don't forget that Kansas is the 30th best in the nation at getting offensive rebounds, so this could be a key in the game.

Free Throw Rate: (15)  Just as they didn't draw a lot of fouls, they also don't commit many fouls. In Mo Valley play, they averaged 15.8 fouls a game.

Add all of that up and it is fairly easy to see why they're tough defensively.  Not allowing second chance baskets and not allowing their opponents to shoot a lot of free throws means you have to make your shots to beat them.  Throw in their slow tempo and you can't expect to get many shots. 


Final Thoughts:  After watching them last night, I wasn't worried at all.  Now that I've done some research, they are starting to scare me a little bit.  Their style of play almost guarantees they will be able to stay in the game.  Hopefully they can't handle the speed of Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor on the perimeter or the athleticism of the Morri and Xavier Henry.