Bowling Green (8-13) at Northern Illinois (5-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: NIU Convocation Center (9,100) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: BGSU 7-3, NIU 3-6. Away Record: BGSU 0-8, NIU 2-9. Neutral Record: BGSU 1-2, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: BGSU 3-5, NIU 3-5. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 29-25.
GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons open up the second half of their Mid- American Conference schedule with a visit to the NIU Convocation Center for a matchup with the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Both these schools own 3-5 MAC records, putting them in a five-way tie for sixth in the league standings with Kent State, Miami-Ohio, and Buffalo. Bowling Green holds a 29-25 all-time series lead after winning the last six encounters. The Falcons have not lost to NIU since the 2006-07 season.
Bowling Green snapped a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 70-59 victory at home over Ball State. The victory put the Falcons at 8-13 overall, but they are still winless in eight true road games. One game after going 1- of-11 from the floor and 0-of-5 from 3-point range, Jordon Crawford had a game-high 19 points and eight assists off the bench against BSU. A'uston Calhoun chipped in with 17 points and Chauncey Orr scored 10 for the Falcons in the win as the team shot 57.7 percent from the field and limited the Cardinals to 45.8 percent shooting.
The Falcons will go as far as the 5-foot-6 Crawford can carry them. The senior point guard paces the team in the scoring column with 16.0 ppg, while Calhoun is close behind at 15.5 ppg. Crawford's lightning quick first step has helped him run the show for BGSU as he deals out 4.3 assists and record 1.8 steals per contest. Calhoun is consistently a force on the glass to grab 7.6 rpg, while Richaun Holmes rejects 2.5 shots per tilt. Bowling Green is one of the better defensive teams in the MAC, limiting their opposition to 63.3 ppg. However, it is only 10th in scoring with a measly 62.0 ppg.
As for the Huskies, they have been perhaps the most sporadic team in the nation in recent weeks. NIU looked great on Jan. 23 as it coasted to a 74-61 victory over Central Michigan, but it followed that with a 42-25 setback to Eastern Michigan in a contest it broke its own NCAA Division I record for futility, scoring just four points in the opening half of action. NIU has since split a pair of games at home with a win over Kent State (67-65) and a loss to Toledo (69-64). Mark Montgomery's squad seems adamant not to let the low-scoring first half define its season.
NIU is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation and net only 56.8 ppg. They have only the sixth best scoring defense with 64.9 points allowed, which is a big reason why they have failed to register back-to-back victories at any point this season. Abdel Nader is pacing NIU with 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, but none of his teammates are remotely close to his team-leading averages. In the loss to Toledo on Saturday, NIU shot just 38.5 percent from the floor but remained competitive by going 7-of-17 from 3-point range.
The Falcons rely very heavily on Crawford for production, making the point guard's performance the deciding factor in many of their games. Calhoun should be able to pick up much of the slack against NIU's weak interior defense. The Huskies are much better at home and have played tough since the notable setback at EMU, but they need to surround Nader with help.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 65, Northern Illinois 58
02/06 10:38:32 ET