March Madness Round 1: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Northern Iowa Panthers Preview and Pick

2009 NCAA March Madness Tournament
No. 24 Purdue Boilermakers -8 (25-9) 15-16 ATS, 16-15 O/U vs. Northern Iowa Panthers +8 (23-10) 16-13 ATS, 17-11 O/U Thursday, March 19, 2009 Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon 1:20 p.m. EST, TV: CBS

by Wilson of

The Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Panthers of Northern Iowa. Northern Iowa is out of the Missouri Valley Conference, they earned an automatic berth by winning the MVC Tournament championship. All Purdue did was win their first ever Big Ten Tournament Championship as they take the No. 5 seed into the West Region while the Panthers boast the No. 12 seed which has been a recipe for upsets in past years as several No.12 seeded teams have knocked off the 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This is Purdues third consecutive trip into the NCAA Tourney. The Boilermakers are averaging 69.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field. ETwaun Moore scored 17 points for the Boilermakers, 14 of those in the second half as Moore hit four three pointers and credited his teammates for working hard to get him some good looks.. JaJuan Johnson poured in 16 points while Robbie Hummel added 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists to help secure the Big Ten Championship.

Defensively, the Boilermakers are only giving up 59 points a game. I dont care what conference you play in, if a team consistently holds opponents under 60 points per contest they deserve some recognition. (*Note: No current side/total on game. Will be added in later.) The total for this game should be within the lower 130s and possibly below it all depends on how the sportsbooks work it out.

Player to watch for the Boilermakers will be Robbie Hummel as he was voted the Big Ten Tournament most outstanding player. Hummel can hurt teams all over the court as he can shoot the long ball as well as crash the boards and he also has an eye for the pass. The Panthers will need to be extremely savvy when it comes to their defensive looks on Thursday.

Northern Iowa knows that they will need to bring their A game to Portland. The Panthers have prided themselves for their defensive play all season and now they will get to show the entire country how the Panthers play. Senior guard Travis Brown was overjoyed seeing our name show up there is special and something Ill never forget, Brown said after learning who and where the team would play during the NCAA selection show on Sunday afternoon.

Panthers junior guard Ali Farokhmanesh is no stranger to the west coast as he grew up in Pullman, Washington, which is home to the Washington State Cougars (the Cougars are playing in the NIT). Farokhmanesh said he received a ton of text messages from friends looking for tickets.

Northern Iowa comes into Thursdays matchup averaging 67 points per game and allowing 63 to their opponents. The Panthers have won their last five games and in two of those games they shot 50 percent from the field.

The die-hard gamblers will tell you to put all the action on the 12 seed simply because of the history and besides, its the NCAAs where upsets are common and most underdog teams come out with a chip on their shoulder trying to prove to the college basketball world that they are worthy of playing with the big boys!

Purdue has won 3 of the last 5 games but they havent shot it that well as of late at less than 40 percent from the floor. They will need to improve their shooting percentage and tighten up on defense in order to make a legitimate run in the tournament.

Its the 12 seed versus the 5 seed! I love Northern Iowa just because it takes a long time to say their name! The Northern Iowa Panthers sounds good, almost like a Cinderella!

Wilsons Pick: Take Northern Iowa to cover the 8 and give Purdue a run for their money.