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SPORTS SHORTS: UNI football unveils 2023 schedule and home start times

CEDAR FALLS — The University of Northern Iowa will open its 125th football season on the road before playing its first of five games inside the UNI-Dome in the 2023 season.

The Panthers will take on Iowa State to open the 2023 campaign on Sept. 2 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames before hosting 2022 FCS playoff qualifier Weber State in their home opener on Sept. 9. UNI is 37-10 (.787) in home openers since the Panthers played their first home game inside the UNI-Dome in 1976.

After rounding out the non-conference slate at Idaho State, the Panthers will open Missouri Valley Football Conference play at home on Sept. 30 against Youngstown State for the first of two scheduled 1 p.m. kickoffs. UNI will then hit the road to open October at Indiana State and at defending national champion South Dakota State on Oct. 14.

The Panthers welcome North Dakota for the first time since 2006 on Oct. 21 for its annual Homecoming game and for the first time as MVFC opponents. UNI faced off against the Fighting Hawks last September in Grand Forks, N.D., in UND’s first season as a member of the league.

After visiting Illinois State on Oct. 28, the Panthers will play two of their final three games at home, starting Nov. 4 against Western Illinois. UNI will play its final road game on Nov. 11 at Missouri State before closing the regular season out against perennial FCS power North Dakota State on Nov. 18.

Bluder named Naismith Coach of the Year semifinalist

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder was named a 2023 Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year semifinalist on Thursday.

Bluder has guided the Hawkeyes to their seventh consecutive season with 20 or more victories in her 23rd year as the head coach at Iowa. This week, the No. 2 Hawkeyes earned their highest AP ranking since 1994.

Most recently, the Hawkeyes cut down the nets at the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis. It was Iowa’s third Big Ten Tournanent title since 2019.

Under Bluder’s direction, the Hawkeyes lead the country with AP Top 10 victories with five this season. This year, Bluder notched 15 regular season conference wins which is the most in her tenure at Iowa.

As the all-time winningest coach in program history, the Hawkeyes have advanced to 21 postseason appearances (17 NCAA and four WNIT) in 23 seasons, including NCAA Tournament berths in 13 of the last 15 seasons. Iowa advanced to the postseason in 15 consecutive seasons (13 NCAA and two WNIT) when a postseason tournament was held. The 2020 pandemic cut the 2019-20 season short, resulting in the sole missed tournament season.

The award’s four finalists will be announced on March 20. The Fan Vote to help narrow the list down to the final honoree will open March 21 and close March 28. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote.

Iowa-Maryland women’s game sets BTN viewership record

CHICAGO — For the second consecutive season, Big Ten regular season women’s basketball and the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament were the most-watched in Big Ten Network history. BTN’s Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament coverage was up 25 percent year-over-year, averaging 150,000 viewers per game, while the regular season was up 19 percent year-over-year.

Additionally, Saturday’s tournament semifinal featuring Iowa and Maryland delivered 380,000 viewers, making it the most-watched game in network history. That topped the previous record set in February, when Iowa and Indiana earned an audience of 325,000.

Three of the top five women’s basketball tournament games in network history came this season, while four of the five most-watched regular season games took place this season. On B1G+, nine of the top 10 women’s basketball average-minute-audiences in B1G+ history took place this season, including the entire top 5.

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