This year’s Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament has a lot of starpower from a name-brand standpoint. Besides the big names such as UNC and Villanova, there also were some looking to have bounce-back seasons after missing the Big Dance a year ago. That included Michigan, Texas Tech, Stanford, and Northern Iowa.
Unfortunately, all four programs lost in the opening round, putting them together in the loser’s bracket of the field. Michigan took on Stanford and needed a comeback effort to get the victory. That’s the same thing that happened in the other game, as Texas Tech needed a last-second shot from Pop Isaacs to get past Northern Iowa. The Panthers did get revenge on Stanford in the 7th-place game, to salvage the week with a win, while the Red Raiders ran the Wolverines out of the gym to get 5th place.
This piece will be a look at all four programs, providing an overall takeaway of their past week.
7th place – Northern Iowa Panthers
Positive takeaway: Nate Hiese is healthy and effective
A year ago, the 6’4 guard was just limited to just two games due to injury and the Panthers missed him very much. Heise was the MVP for the team in these three games, averaging around 16 ppg, including 15 pts and 6 rebs against Stanford. He’s currently the leading scorer on the team and with last year’s top scorer Bowen Born back, this team could have the offense needed to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Negative takeaway: Need better second-half defensive efforts
Despite being the mid-major of the field, Northern Iowa proved to be very capable in this field, having a second-half lead in all three games. But they blew two of them, both that was by 10+ points. The defense struggled in them and while it’s a bit unfair against bigger teams like UNC and Texas Tech, the Panthers will leave wondering “what if” those big runs weren’t allowed.