VCU drew one of the highly-coveted ESPN games in this year’s edition of the Bracketbuster matchups, this time taking on the Panthers of Northern Iowa (14-9, 4-7) out of the always competitive Missouri Valley Conference in a nationally-televised ESPN2 contest Friday, February 17nd at 7PM.
The Rams needed an RPI boosting opponent, and seem to have gotten that as the Panthers were the fourth-highest rated away team (57) in this year’s group of teams. VCU was the 11th-highest rated home team (84) heading into tonight’s pairings.
UNI started the season out strong, winning ten of their first eleven including a season-opening 63-46 road win at Old Dominion. The Panthers have been on a bit of a slide however, losing five of their last seven including an 11-point road loss to a 6-17 Bradley team who are winless in the MVC otherwise.
Which UNI team will show up in Richmond remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: you’d be hard-pressed to find many Kansas fans tuned into the matchup. A season before VCU stunned the college hoops world in upsetting the Jayhawks for a ticket to the 2011 Final 4, the Panthers sent Bill Self’s squad home after UNI’s Ali Farokhmanesh’s late 3-pointer punched the Panthers a ticket to the Sweet 16 and ended the season of the perennial power Jayhawks.