The Northern Iowa defense may have not been broken, but Louisville sophomore guard Terry Rozier bent it enough to push his Cardinals past UNI and into the Sweet Sixteen. Ultimately the Panthers had no answer for Rozier's offensive explosiveness, whether it be the 25 points via a deadly jumper or the precision 7 assists.
For a Louisville team that was known for its defensive prowess throughout the season more so than its scoring ability, the Cardinals were able to kick the offense into another gear without sacrificing their brilliantly orchestrated defense.
While at moments it seemed Northern Iowa would gain momentum in the second half for an inevitable run, a Louisville block or timely bucket would swing the game back in the Cardinals' favor. Although senior bench forward Nate Buss began leading the charge late in the game to bank 11 after a scoreless first half, UNI entirely lacked offensive consistency outside of star senior Seth Tuttle who had 14 points with 7 rebounds.
Montrezl Harrell, a junior forward for the Cardinals, played a significant part in stifling Northern Iowa as he dominated inside physically to allow the Louisville guards to patrol the three point line without fear of giving away many free baskets. His 14 points on five field goals and four free throws made also served as emphatic rally-killers that pushed the Panthers from ever getting too close.
In both games of the NCAA Tournament, UNI starters Marvin Singleton and Jeremy Morgan were nearly invisible on both sides of the ball. Wes Washpun, who had scored 10 against Wyoming for the Panthers, was also quiet with only 2 in the Round of 32 showing.
The game ended with an emotional display by Seth Tuttle on the sideline as his last game as a Panther came to a close in a season where he was the Missouri Valley Larry Bird Player of the Year and captained his team to a 31-4 (16-2) record and a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship.
Louisville will now advance to play North Carolina State in the Sweet 16 on Friday, March 27 at 7:37 pm ET.