Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Northern Iowa Steals NCAA Spotlight


The Northern Iowa Panthers have rightfully stolen the NCAA spotlight by slaying number one seed Kansas 69 - 67 and set the stage for more heroics against Michigan State on Friday as America's latest homegrown no-name gritty, intentioned and unlikely heroes: Allen L Roland

OK, the healthcare Bill passed but let's be honest ~ it won't become fully implemented until 2014 and at its worse it was a bailout of the Drug and Health Insurance Industry ( note how their stocks have soared recently ) with no promised public option.

Once again, Wall Street gets a gift and Main Street gets a work in progress. For example, the bill includes a provision that gives drug makers a 12 year period of exclusivity on expensive medicines before generic alternatives may enter the market ~ and many of those drugs, including cancer treatments, cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

And let's be even more honest in that despite all the political posturing in Washington, DC ~ a far more dramatic David versus Goliath scenario is playing itself out at the NCAA basketball playoffs which has captured the attention of most of the nation's sports fans ~ much as George Mason did in 2006.

I vividly remember the national excitement as George Mason, with its similar no-name homegrown cast, slayed Goliath after Goliath on its way to the final four. That included number one seed Connecticut and even Michigan State ~ which the Northern Iowa Panthers face Friday night.

Make no mistake about it ~ the Panthers are for real as any one who watched the last few minutes of the Kansas game, as I most certainly did, will attest. They are talented, gritty, determined and confident ~ even under relentless pressure. Watch Senior guard Ali Farokhmanesh calmly fire the three pointer that was the dagger in the heart of a frantic Kansas rally ~ the shot that felled goliath.

"If anybody's going to shoot that shot, I want it to be Ali," Northern Iowa's Jake Koch said after the game.

The Panthers are no fluke ~ as reported by Detroit ; " Kansas coach Bill Self said it'd be a mistake to label UNI "Cinderella." After his team's loss to the Panthers , he told the Kansas City Star UNI was the first team he noticed when the brackets were released. UNI senior forward Adam Koch was named MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference despite not finishing in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals or blocks. Koch does everything well and nothing spectacular, which epitomizes the team he plays on. Koch is complemented by 7-foot senior center Jordan Eglseder (12 ppg, 7.3 rpg), junior point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe (10.6 ppg) and Farokhmanesh, who's led Northern Iowa in scoring in each of its Tournament victories while shooting 9-of-19 from 3-point range."

This year's NCAA tournament has been defined by its upsets. Eight double-digit seeds moved through the bracket in the first round. No. 10 Saint Mary's beat Villanova on Saturday and No. 11 Washington shoved aside New Mexico while No. 12 Cornell dismantled Wisconsin ~ but Northern Iowa's victory was without a doubt the biggest shocker of them all.

Here are my bracket picks for the upcoming greatest sports weekend in college Sports when, within two days, the Sweet Sixteen is shrunk to the Elite Eight ~ Northern Iowa, Tennessee, Butler, Kansas State, Kentucky, Washington, Duke and Baylor which will then become the final four on Sunday ~ Northern Iowa, Kansas State, Kentucky and Baylor.

It doesn't get much better than this !

Allen L Roland

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Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is also available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations (


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