N Iowa needs to win Valley to reach NCAAs


February 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Northern Iowa ran roughshod through the Missouri Valley tournament two years ago in what proved to be a tuneup for its stunning run to the NCAA tournament’s regional semifinals. The Panthers enter this week’s league tournament knowing that it once again represents their only chance to sneak into the NCAAs. Fifth-seeded Northern Iowa (19-12, 9-9 MVC) opens tournament play against Illinois State (18-12, 9-9) on Friday. The winner of that game would likely get top-seeded and 15th-ranked Wichita State on Saturday in the semifinals. It’s all a longshot at best for Northern Iowa, which will likely miss the NCAAs for the second straight season unless it can dust off some of that old magic from years past.