Northern Iowa just defeated Kansas and the MIssouri Valley regular season and tournament champions are one of the hottest teams in college basketball, and the Panthers' coach, Ben Jacobson, is one of the hottest names in coaching. Jacobson's name was already mentioned by some outlets as a possibility for the DePaul job, but the victory over the Jayhawks is sure to up the intensity of those rumors.
In four seasons at Northern Iowa Jacobson is 87-42. His team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons. Last season they were eliminated after the first round, but as Pat Forde pointed out, this team was on a mission this season.
Now, the one big blip of Northern Iowa's resume this season was a loss... to DePaul (well and Evansville). It seems so long ago now with the Panthers going to the Sweet 16 and the Blue Demons not having played a game since the first round of the Big East Tournament, but on November 20, 2009 DePaul defeated Northern Iowa 60-52.
And honestly, that shouldn't be held against Jacobson. Because this team has grown by leaps and bounds since that point.
While at UNI Jacobson has had to deal with his fair share of issues. Star center Jordan Eglseder had to be suspended after being charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in February. That Jacobson went and made a hard decision, suspending one of his best players, and taking a bad loss to Bradley in the process, showed good decision making and the ability to control a program.
The one knock on Jacobson in terms of him coming to DePaul is that he doesn't seem to have a national recruiting profile. The Panthers are built from the heart of the country. Ali Farokhmanesh and Egleseder are both from Iowa. The Koch brothers, Jake and Adam, are from Wisconsin. There isn't a single player on Northern Iowa's roster from beyond Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.
This seems to suggest that Jacobson might be a better fit for Iowa than DePaul. The Hawkeyes recruit very well locally and he could use his recruiting prowess in the Midwest in a big way at Iowa. Also, the Big Ten seems to fit Jacobson's slow-down, play really good defense style of basketball much better than the elite athletes of the Big East.
He might not be the perfect fit, but the fact is this: Jacobson is a winner. DePaul could do much worse.