Texas-Arlington at Northern Iowa, 8:00 PM Eastern, NBC Sports Channel-Chicago/espn3
Although the overall college basketball schedule is very light this evening, the Under the Radar Game of the Day is a fascinating one as the Missouri Valley Conference’s Northern Iowa Panthers host the Sun Belt’s top team, the Texas-Arlington Mavericks. UNI enters tonight’s game at 6-2 overall, but it is hard to have a more respectable pair of losses — at North Carolina and in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game to Villanova. They also have a trifecta of solid wins — over SMU and NC State in the Bahamas and a home win over UNLV in last week’s Mountain West-Missouri Valley challenge series. Bennett Koch led the team with 30 points in the win over Vegas after having picked up a double-double in the Villanova loss. Tywhon Pickford has been dominant as well, registering double-digits on the boards in all but one game so far, including his double 18 (18 points and 18 rebounds) output against NC State.
Texas-Arlington enters tonight’s game at 7-1 overall, with the lone loss having come by 1 point at Alabama. Although none of their wins have been against the types of names that Northern Iowa has defeated, the Mavs do have a pair of solid road victories at Niagara and at BYU. Kevin Hervey has been over 20 points in all but one game that he has played so far this season, and has had at least 8 rebounds five times already. Also keep an eye on Erick Neal who is coming off a 20 point output against North Texas after scoring a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists) against non-D1 Texas-Dallas. In fact, Neal has been in double-digits in the assists column all but twice so far this year, giving him the third best Assist-Rate in the nation according to kenpom.com. Efforts like that may be necessary again tonight in this matchup of two of the best UTR teams in the nation.