Monday, December 16, 2019 2:34 PM | CBN
By: Liam Blutman
Another week, another spotlight on some phenomenal Mid-Major basketball.
My team of the week comes to us from the Missouri Valley Conference, a school known for success as a Mid-Major. You know them, you probably love them too, they are Northern Iowa. The Panthers headed West for two games in three days. Not easy for anyone. First, they visited #24 Colorado and absolutely shocked them. AJ Green and Trae Berhow combined to score 40, shooting 12/24 from the field as a pair and also combining to shoot 10/16 from three! The two were instrumental in a huge road upset win against a pretty dang good Colorado team. A massive Quadrant 1 victory for the resume. AJ Green hit a three to tie the game at 76 with 1:10 to go on a beautiful inbounds play. Very impressive as UNI went into a hostile environment and braved the storm and shot 14-26 from three which is just outrageous. Northern Iowa ranks 35th in offensive efficiency, sheesh. They rank 311th in tempo, so shots tend to come at a premium for both teams. Keep shooting like this and they’ll be in play for an at-large bid. The Panthers are shooting an impressive 35.9% from three, 55% on two’s, and are hitting free throws at a 75.4% clip. This is a UNI team that takes care of the ball, makes smart passes and takes quality shots. They smoked Grand Canyon after taking down Colorado. That could’ve been a close game but the Panthers were extremely focused on the task at hand. Plenty of teams would struggle against a lesser opponent after they just beat a great opponent, not UNI and they did it on just a day of rest. AJ Green scored 25 and was 7-11 from the field in a 82-58 win over Grand Canyon. I wrote about AJ Green back in the spring and I’m so very excited about his future in Northern Iowa. He’s a stone cold killer who is clutch and he’s got a chance to be a legendary player for Northern Iowa. Green does need to be more efficient from the field and in these two big wins he was, hence the results. AJ is shooting just 37% from the field, ideally he can hit at a 42% clip and lead the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament. The road ahead for UNI features Marshall and then conference play. The team is currently 10-1 and I can see them going 26-4 at regular seasons end. I’m keeping my eye on January 18thwhen UNI plays at Bradley. A tough test against a good defensive team. Then there’s back to back road games for the Panthers when they face Loyola-Chicago and Indiana State on February 15th and 20th. Hopefully we can see Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament. It’s not a 10 or 11 seed you want to see your favorite team facing. Northern Iowa is Mid-Major royalty baby, so keep an eye on AJ Green and the Panthers.
For my POTW, I have to shine the spotlight on Jordan Goodwin of Saint Louis. He and SLU played just one game this week, a clash with Auburn and Goodwin thrived. The 6’3” guard scored 15 and corralled 12 rebounds and was 7-17 from the field. Great game. Here’s the thing, 12 rebounds isn’t even the career high for this guard. He tallied 16 just last Sunday! Oh yeah, Goodwin hauled in 19 boards just two weeks ago. There’s not a better rebounding guard in college basketball. The junior is averaging 11.1 RPG, a huge improvement from his 7.5 RPG in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. 11.1 rebounds a game is sick for a big man and here we are watching a floor general come down with 11 rebounds a game, absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been watching Goodwin since his freshman year at SLU and I’ve wrote about him before as I always knew he was a good rebounder but this is GREAT rebounding. He’s taken it to another level and that’s because he’s got stellar instincts, is really aggressive, and thinks every shot ever taken is going to be missed. It’s cool that he was snagging 19 boards against Southern Illinois, I care more about the 12 against Auburn. For a guard to snag 12 rebounds against SEC big men is near unheard of. Jordan Goodwin is straight up nasty. H\e rebounds like a 7 foot center, goes after rebounds like a point guard hustles for loose balls. For the year he’s averaging 15.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, and shooting 48.8% from the field. Just like on the glass, he’s aggressive with the ball looking to get to the bucket and finish strong. His biggest flaw is free throw shooting, the entire SLU team struggles mightily from the line, but hopefully Goodwin and the rest of the team can fix this. Bottom line, any kid with aspirations of playing basketball at the next level should watch how Jordan Goodwin rebounds, hustles, and plays for the school on his jersey every possession of every game. Jordan Goodwin is just a hometown kid playing for his hometown school and impressing the youth in his community while he does it!