Northern Iowa Stuns Kansas

March 21st, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

In a March that has been defined by several signature upsets, perhaps the biggest yet took place in the second round in the Midwest bracket.

Behind several critical 3-point shots made down the stretch by Panther guard Ali Farokhmanesh, No.9 seed Northern Iowa stunned No.1 overall seed Kansas, 69-67, propelling the team to the Sweet-16 for the first time in school history.

Frokhmanesh led the Panthers with 16 points on the night, none of which were more important than a shot he knocked down from beyond the arc with his team up by one-point, to extend the lead to four with only minutes remaining.

“If anybody’s going to shoot that shot, I want it to be Ali,” said his Northern Iowa teammate Jake Koch.

No team from the Missouri Valley conference has gone past the second round since Indiana State did in 1979, behind Larry Bird.

The Panthers had to stymie a desperate rally from the Jayhawks, as they tried to avoid being the first No.1 seed not to advance to the Sweet-16 since Kentucky and Stanford in 2004.  Too little too late.

Kansas had an opportunity, down four points with the ball, but Tyrel Reed ran into Farokhmanesh and was nailed for the offensive foul, that sent the Panthers to the charity stripe.  Farokhmanesh knocked both free-throws down, with only five seconds remaining, effectively ending any hope of a comeback for Kansas.

Now, the Panthers move on and will face the winner of the Michigan State-Maryland game on Sunday.

“This team has done such a great job of turning the page to what’s next, and this would be the biggest challenge of the year,” remarked Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson. “A lot of positive things have happened because of the way these guys played.”

The Panthers jumped on the Jayhawks early in the game, and crushed their hopes of a National title, along with busting brackets everywhere.

Northern Iowa controlled the tempo of the game for most of the 40 minutes, and had a 12-point lead at one point.

Kansas was unable to get anything going on the offensive side of the court, with Cole Aldrich tabbing 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Marcus Morris scored 16 points.  Senior Sherron Collins concluded his history-making career as a Jayhawk by going 4 of 15 from the floor.

“Obviously, everybody is disappointed on our team,” Aldrich said in a post-game conference. “To work so hard and to go through so much adversity, it’s disappointing that we couldn’t have let Sherron go out in a better way.”

Northern Iowa was playing a No.1 team for the first time in their history, and are now undefeated in that category. They became the first team from their conference to notch a victory over a top-ranked team since 1962.

USA Online Sportsbooks
had installed Kansas as an 11-point favorite to advance to the Sweet-16.  The over/under for the match up was set at 127 1/2 points, and with the games total reaching 136, it went the over.

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