Things got a little hairy at times over the course of the 2015-2016 regular season for the University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team. The Panthers were a puzzling team to say the least, earning victories over the nation’s top-ranked team at the time, North Carolina, and a then-top-five team in Iowa State showed the country that UNI was not to be taken lightly.
However, the Panthers also showed they were completely human and could be defeated on any given night with losses to Loyola, Missouri State and Indiana State, to name a few.
UNI finished with a record of 11-7 in regular season play and entered the Missouri Valley Conference tournament with an overall record of 19-12, meaning they would need to rip off three straight victories to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The Panthers did just that, defeating Southern Illinois, Wichita State and Evansville to punch their ticket and earn an automatic to the “Big Dance.”
Former Linn-Mar prep Matt Bohannon had a quiet night offensively in the MVC title against Evansville, scoring just two points against the Purple Aces, but he logged the most minutes and played some rugged defense to help get the Panthers back to the tourney.
Through 34 games, Bohannon is the Panthers’ second leading scorer at 11.8 points per game behind teammate and former Cedar Rapids Washington prep Wes Washpun’s 14.3 points per game. Bohannon’s points per game are up over six points per game from his 2014-2015 season totals, proving that he is an integral part of the Panthers’ success.
For now, UNI will wait until Sunday to find out their fate and their next opponent. The Panthers enter the tournament winners of 12 of their last 13 contests and are poised to make some noise yet again in the month of March.