The road to the Elite Eight just got a lot easier for Maryland. And Michigan State, for that matter.
Both still need to win their game with each other tomorrow, but if they do win, it won't be Kansas that they play. That's because Northern Iowa, a 9 seed, beat the best team in the country this afternoon. From the Sports Network:
Ali Farokhmanesh scored 16 points, including a critical three-pointer in the waning moments, and Northern Iowa stunned No. 1 overall seed Kansas, 69-67, in the second round of the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Obviously, Michigan State is Maryland's objective #1. But Northern Iowa's win gives this game a lot more urgency. The Panthers are certainly good - tonight's game showed as much - but there's no doubt that they had to play above their level to get that win. They don't present nearly as big of problems as Kansas did: they do have a 7 footer in Jordan Egelseder, but he's no where near as dominant as Cole Aldrich, and they do have a great guard (Farokmanesh), but he's not as quick as Sherron Collins. They don't have nearly the depth nor overall talent level as Kansas.
They'll still be a tough out, of course. They have a ridiculous amount of momentum now, and you get a George Mason type of feeling around them. America will be pulling for the ridiculous looking UNI frontcourt and the scrappy little Iranian guard. But Kansas was a game that would've been extremely difficult to win; Northern Iowa isn't, at least not as much.
Now we turn to Michigan State. Maryland needs to beat them before this game turns into anything meaningful. That, of course, goes down at 2:40 tomorrow.