The U.N.I. Panthers are the biggest story in college basketball right now and the next chapter will be played out in St. Louis on Friday night when the Panthers take on Michigan State in the Midwest regional semifinals. U.N.I. reached the “Sweet Sixteen” with a stunning upset of top ranked Kansas.
Coach Ben Jacobsen may not be a big fan of his team being called a “Cinderella” but he understands why. He says it does apply in some ways to what they are doing with the fun and excitement they have generated. But Jacobsen says it doesn’t apply when you look at the fact they have been to the NCAA Tournament in 5 of the last 7 tournaments and people have seen them play and gained respect for what they’ve done.
Jacobsen says the Panthers were able to come back after a big win over UNLV and put together a big effort against Kansas and he expects nothing different as they get ready for Michigan State. He says they worked hard for a day and half to play as well as they can and he says it was not surprise that they played well. Jacobsen says they had to have some things go well and they did, hitting some threes and Kansas missed some threes.
U.N.I. athletic director Troy Dannen expects a large contingent of Panther fans to be at the Edward R. Jones Dome. Dannen says the alumni association is working on a fan bus, they plan on taking three student buses. He says U.N.I. receives 1,250 tickets, the building is set up for 38,000 and there have been 23,000 sold. Dannen says they have had about two and half times more requests than they have tickets.
Dannen says the tickets remaining are likely not in the lower bowl of the stadium, but fans should be able to move down when the first game is over.
There will be a public send off for the team Wednesday afternoon near the McLeod Center.