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2016 NCAA Tournament: Texas A&M vs. UNI Preview

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Taking a closer look at Friday night's national darlings and today's opponent, the 11th-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get this out of our system early.

Northern Iowa gave us one of the best anti-Texas moments of all time, draining a half-court buzzer beater to eliminate the Longhorns and advance to the second round.

It was hilarious, and Aggie Twitter wasted no time piling on the despondent Texas fanbase. Do yourself a favor and view those highlights and troll tweets one more time.

Ok, then. That's enough. Northern Iowa is no longer the charming longhorn-murder program. They are now the enemy.

Let's break it down.

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UNI fears no one

The Panthers had a rather pedestrian conference season, going 11-7 en route to a #4 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference. They grabbed some huge wins in the process, though, defeating Stephen F Austin, Iowa State, and North Carolina in non-conference play, and going 5-1 against the two best teams in their conference (Wichita State and Evansville).

That's good for an 8-3 record against the RPI Top 100, a 4-1 record against the RPI Top 50, and a 2-0 record against the AP Top 25. Which is a resume that any power five team would take in a heartbeat.

On the flip side, they have some baaaaaad losses. The Panthers routinely struggled on the road against the lesser teams in the MVC, dropping as low as 11-10 after a 1-6 stretch in late January. We certainly can't relate to that.

Something clicked when the Panthers hit rock bottom, however, and they have since won twelve of their last thirteen, including a run to the MVC tournament title.

These guys will enter this game truly feeling like they can win.

Height is key. Again.

Texas A&M struggled early before pulling away in their huge first round victory over Green Bay, and part of that was an inability to impose our will down low early. Green Bay came out determined to deny the ball to our bigs, and we didn't really force the issue. We changed our tune after the Phoenix jumped out to an early lead, but we may not have that luxury tonight.

Northern Iowa is talented, but undersized. Feed the ball to Davis down low, crash the boards, and stick with the program.

Don't let the less talented underdog dictate the pace and style of play.

The Underdogs had their fun

After an insanely upset-heavy first round, things pretty much returned to form yesterday. I think we'll see more of that this evening. Northern Iowa rode the high of what was clearly "the moment of the first round," but I don't see them rallying to defeat an objectively better A&M team within 48 hours.

If we play to our potential, we'll handle this game. If we struggle to find a rhythm early and give the surging Panthers hope... we might have a dicey evening on our hands.

I think we get it done today. I really do. But it might be a little stressful.

BTHO UNI