Northern Illinois (4-13) at Eastern Michigan (9-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,754) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 2-5, EMU 9-2. Away Record: NIU 2-8, EMU 0-8. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: NIU 2-3, EMU 2-3. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 50-31.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles look to avenge their first-round Mid- American Conference Tournament loss from a season ago as they host the Northern Illinois Huskies at the Convocation Center on Saturday.
The Huskies and Eagles met three times last season with Eastern Michigan winning the two regular season meetings before NIU knocked the Eagles out of the MAC Tournament. Northern Illinois leads the all-time series with Eastern Michigan, 50-31, but the teams have split the last 10 encounters.
The Huskies were able to end their three-game losing streak on Wednesday on the road with a 74-61 victory over Central Michigan. Coach Mike Montgomery's team is second in defensive rebounding percentage (70.8 percent) and first in defensive rebounding percentage in conference play (73.6 percent), but is it still just 2-3 in the MAC standings. Abdel Nader netted a season-best 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to push Huskies past the Chippewas.
Nader's strong showing is just what NIU needed to bounce back from its 37-point loss to Western Michigan. The sophomore swingman paces the Huskies with 13.9 points per game on 36.7 percent field goal shooting. Darrell Bowie is averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in conference play. NIU will need more production out of its freshman Akeem Springs. The 6-3 guard has reached double figures five times, but he has not done so in four straight games. Junior swingman Aksel Bolin picked up the slack versus CMU by tallying 13 points and three assists.
The Eagles are 9-10 on the campaign after dropping a hard-fought, 63-59, decision at Western Michigan on Wednesday. Coach Rob Murphy's team has lost all eight of its true road games, but it is 9-2 at home including a huge win over Purdue. Senior guard Derek Thompson is leading the way offensively, tallying 11.5 points per game. Pacing the Eagles in rebounding is junior center Da'Shonte Riley who is posting 6.2 boards and 2.2 blocks per game.
While EMU just fell below the .500 mark, it is leading the MAC in scoring defense at just 61.2 ppg. The Eagles' defensive prowess was on not display their last time out, as they allowed WMU to convert 46.7 percent of their attempts from the floor. Their own offensive output was not quite up to par, as they went 23-of-58 from the floor and added only seven more points at the charity stripe. Daylen Harrison paced the team with 15 points, Glenn Bryant added 12, and Jamell Harris scored 10 while all three grabbed six boards.
NIU is decent on the road versus league foes, but EMU is adept at shutting down visitors once they enter the Convocation Center. The Eagles were able to completely stifle Purdue earlier this season, which is not a good sign for the inconsistent Huskies.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 60, Northern Illinois 51
01/26 10:40:33 ET