Breaking down UNI’s 2019-20 men’s basketball non conference schedule

By John Bohnenkamp

UNI was one game away from the NCAA Tournament last season despite winning just 16 games.

A rough November and December put the Panthers into position where they needed a run in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Louis to get to that point.

But with four starters back from that team, UNI coach Ben Jacobson said earlier this summer the Panthers had learned some valuable lessons.

“We had a tremendous amount of varying experiences last year. There are so many positives to that,”Jacobson says. “When you’re going through some of them, like we did in November and December, when you’re going through them you don’t feel like there are any positives that are going to come out of it. The way that we struggled to play at both ends of the floor, come together as a team, pretty much each area that’s important, we had a hard time getting high enough to be competitive in November and December. But those experiences were extremely valuable. We were better in January and February because of it.”

UNI’s schedule will be difficult this season, even without the Hy-Vee Classic game against an in-state rival.

Some statistics on UNI’s schedule:

• There are at least two games against Power Five conference teams — West Virginia (Big 12) in the Cancun Challenge and at Colorado (Pac-12). The Panthers could possibly play South Carolina (SEC) in Cancun.

• UNI will see two Conference USA teams — Old Dominion and Marshall — and possibly AAC team Wichita State.

• Five of the teams — Old Dominion, Northern Colorado, Colorado, Grand Canyon and Marshall — won 20 or more games last season. The Panthers could play Wichita State, a team that won 22 games, in Cancun.

• Colorado was 65 in the NCAA’s NET last season. Wichita State was 63 and South Carolina was 79.

• The Panthers get seven home games, including Northern Colorado and Tennessee-Martin as part of the Cancun Challenge.

A look at the Panthers’ 2019-20 schedule:

OLD DOMINION

Date and place — Nov. 5, McLeod Center

Last year — 26-9 (13-5 Conference USA)

2019 NET — 101

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 70-100-120-64-113

NORTHERN ILLINOIS

Date and place — Nov. 9, DeKalb, Ill.

Last year — 17-17 (8-10 MAC)

2019 NET — 140

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 179-165-205-249-136

CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD

Date and place — Nov. 13, McLeod Center

Last year — 18-16 (7-9 WAC)

2019 NET — 219

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 252-314-323-327-304

NORTHERN COLORADO

Date and place — Nov. 16, McLeod Center

Last year — 21-11 (15-5 Big Sky)

2019 NET — 167

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 252-314-283-104-193

TENNESSEE-MARTIN

Date and place — Nov. 19, McLeod Center

Last year — 12-19 (6-12 OVC)

2019 NET — 310

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 148-209-210-294-289

CORNELL

Date and place — Nov. 20, McLeod Center

Last year — 6-12

WEST VIRGINIA

Date and place — Nov. 26, Cancun, Mexico

Last year — 15-21 (4-14 Big 12)

2019 NET — 106

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 25-8-7-12-95

WICHITA STATE

Date and place — Nov. 27, Cancun, Mexico (possible second game opponent)

Last year — 22-15 (10-8 AAC)

2019 NET — 63

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 13-13-8-21-66

SOUTH CAROLINA

Date and place — Nov. 27, Cancun, Mexico (possible second game opponent)

Last year — 16-16 (11-7 SEC)

2019 NET — 79

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 63-58-24-80-70

LUTHER

Date and place — Dec. 2, McLeod Center

Last year — 7-17

COLORADO

Date and place — Dec. 10, Boulder, Colo.

Last year — 23-13 (10-8 Pac-12)

2019 NET — 65

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 92-57-72-114-63

GRAND CANYON

Date and place — Dec. 12, Phoenix, Ariz.

Last year — 20-14 (10-6 WAC)

2019 NET — 104

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 263-130-152-121-111

MARSHALL

Date and place — Dec. 22, McLeod Center

Last year — 23-14 (11-7 C-USA)

2019 NET — 146

KenPom rankings (last 5 years) — 261-147-149-105-157

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