With all five starters back from last season’s team, Ben Jacobson’s 23rd-ranked Northern Iowa Panthers entered the 2014-15 campaign with expectations of contending for the Missouri Valley Conference title. And the Panthers have looked the part thus far, winning their first nine games of the season with All-MVC forward Seth Tuttle (15.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) leading the way.
Saturday night the Panthers will look to win their tenth straight as they visit VCU in a game that can be seen at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN. Shaka Smart’s Rams will look to use “Havoc” to force the tempo, and in front of a raucous Siegel Center crowd things can get away from a visiting team quickly if they don’t value the basketball.
The VCU tandem of Treveon Graham and Melvin Johnson is averaging a combined 34.3 points per game, and as a team the Rams are scoring nearly 75 points per contest. The key for VCU will be how they defend in the half court, as opponents are currently shooting 47.3% from the field. If UNI can take care of the basketball, they’ll have a shot at matching the best start in school history. Norm Stewart’s 1963-64 UNI team also won its first ten games.