The Biggest Cats in the Valley

Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. Photo: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports

The country has been so enamored with Wichita St over the past three years that it overlooked a program that has been among the most successful in the Missouri Valley in the past decade. That is no longer an issue as Northern Iowa has staked its claim as the team to beat in the MVC.

As in most years, the Panthers are doing it with defense as they lead the league in points allowed, field goal percentage defense, and three-point field goal percentage defense. In fact, when Wichita St made the trip up to Cedar Falls it only shot 35.4 percent for the game.

Defense can carry a team a long way in March and the Panthers, who’ve only allowed one opponent to score 60 since December 13, have the tools to get to the second weekend.

Stock Up: Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. The arch rivals are having quite the run in recent weeks. Both are climbing the Big XII standings and posting impressive wins while they do it.

Stock Down: Georgetown. There’s a lot of talent on the team, but it’s just not coming together as of yet. The Hoyas have plenty of time to climb out of their current funk, but getting swept by Xavier and Providence won’t look good on Selection Sunday.

Stock Up: Harvard. Hasn’t been the prettiest start, but it looks like the Crimson has found its groove. Harvard is beginning to resemble the team everyone thought it would before the season started.

Stock Down: USC. The Trojans are 1-10 in conference play and this is a down year in the Pac-12. Andy Enfield has yet to get Dunk City to move to Los Angeles.

On to the Bracket.

Last Four In: Miami(FL), Stanford, Purdue, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: Colorado St, Michigan St, Boise St, Rhode Island

This bracket is good for games thru 2/8

Quick Note: Virginia is on the No. 2 line because of Justin Anderson’s injury. We’ll see how this week plays out.

MIDWEST

1.Kentucky16.North Florida/Alabama St Louisville

8.Iowa9.Xavier

5.Ohio St12.Stephen F. Austin Jacksonville

4.Oklahoma13.Harvard

6.Cincinnati11.Old Dominion Portland

3.Utah14.North Carolina Central

7.SMU10.Georgia Charlotte

2.Virginia15.Albany

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Sacramento St Seattle

8.Georgetown9.Dayton

5.Northern Iowa12.Purdue/Stanford Columbus

4.Iowa St13.Valparaiso

6.Oklahoma St11.Texas A&M/Miami(FL) Louisville

3.North Carolina14.Bowling Green

7.VCU10.Illinois Portland

2.Arizona15.New Mexico St

EAST

1.Duke16.North Dakota St Charlotte

8.Indiana9.Tulsa

5.West Virginia12.Wofford Pittsburgh

4.Wichita St13.Iona

6.Maryland11.UCLA Seattle

3.Baylor14.UC Davis

7.Mississippi10.Texas Pittsburgh

2.Villanova15.Louisiana Monroe

SOUTH

1.Wisconsin16.St. Francis(NY)/Colgate Omaha

8.San Diego St9.LSU

5.Butler12.Murray St Jacksonville

4.Notre Dame13.Louisiana Tech

6.Arkansas11.Temple Columbus

3.Louisville14.William & Mary

7.Providence10.George Washington Omaha

2.Kansas15.High Point

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