You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait, UNI is a quality mid-major program. It’s not really a bad loss if you lose to them.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.
Undeniably, UNI has been one of the best mid-major programs in the country for quite awhile, especially under direction of Gerg McDermott and Ben Jacobsen. Since Greg McDermott took over in the 2002 season, the Panthers have been to the NCAA tournament seven times in a conference which traditionally only gets one team into the tournament, with that team most often being Wichita State in that span. After Greg McDermott left in the 2006 season to head to Ames, Ben Jacobsen took over, and they’ve been near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference ever since. They consistently play solid defense, and don’t make mistakes.
So why is it a bad loss whenever Iowa State loses to UNI? Because a Power 5 school has significant recruiting and financial advantage over mid-major schools. Simply put, Iowa State should, and usually does, have a significant talent advantage over UNI. This pretty obviously means that while there are lots of factors that go into any game, Iowa State can and should be at least on-par if not better than UNI in basically every facet of the game. However, this has not always happened. With a 37–13 record in the series, Iowa State still controls the duel pretty handily, but 13 losses seems like a lot to a school that isn’t really able to recruit nationally and doesn’t have anywhere near the financial resources that Iowa State does.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a rip on UNI or the outstanding basketball program Ben Jacobsen has put together in Cedar Falls, but rather an indictment of the underperformance of Iowa State against the Panthers, a team which Iowa State SHOULD have virtually every possible advantage over.