Central Michigan (8-14) at Northern Illinois (10-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 12, 8 p.m. (ET)
ACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: CMU 6-6, NIU 5-7. Away Record: CMU 2-8, NIU 5-5. Neutral Record: CMU 0-0, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 1-9, NIU 4-6. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 50-46.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies will conclude a three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they host the Central Michigan Chippewas in a Mid- American Conference bout at the Convocation Center.
Northern Illinois split the first two tests of the homestand, posting a win over Miami-Ohio (53-41) followed by a loss to Western Michigan (74-71). The setback against the Broncos ended a three-game win streak for the Huskies, who are 10-12 overall, which includes a 4-6 mark in league play. They will venture out on the road to battle Akron next.
Central Michigan finally ended an eight-game losing streak and earned its first conference win of the season with a 78-73 victory over Kent State last Wednesday. However, the Chippewas fell right back into the loss column on Saturday, as they suffered a 79-70 setback against Buffalo. The loss dropped them to 8-14 overall and 1-9 in conference. A rematch with the Golden Flashes is up next.
This is the first of two scheduled meetings between these programs, with the other set for Feb. 23 at McGuirk Arena. Last year featured a series split between the squads, with the road team claiming victory in each bout. Northern Illinois narrowly leads the all-time series, 50-46.
As hard as they tried, the Chippewas did not have an answer for Buffalo's Javon McCrea, who tallied 25 points and 20 rebounds to push the Bulls past Central Michigan. The Chippewas only connected on 40.7 percent of their shots from the floor, while being dominated in the paint, where they were outscored, 42-24, and outrebounded, 40-27.
Although CMU is scraping the bottom of the proverbial [MAC] barrel in terms of wins and losses, it is actually the second-best scoring team in the conference (74.1 ppg). However, a lack of defensive pressure and poor performances on the glass have been costly, as they let teams shoot 48.3 percent from the floor, while ranking next-to-last in the league in rebounds (32 rpg). Chris Fowler (17.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) keeps the Chippewas humming on offense, leading the way in scoring and assists, while hitting 54.8 percent of his tries from the floor. John Simons (11 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster.
Northern Illinois nearly pulled off an impressive come-from-behind victory versus Western Michigan, but in the end it fell short. The Huskies, who trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half, did shoot an uncharacteristically efficient 47.8 percent from the field in the setback.
The effort put forth by the Huskies against Western Michigan was nearly a 10- point jump in shooting percentage compared to their season mark (.386), which is dead last in the MAC. They are also the worst team in the conference in terms of scoring (62.2 ppg) and assists (8.6 apg). However, they have avoided being routed most nights by holding foes to 64.3 ppg on 41.9 percent shooting. NIU is without a double-digit scorer, ever since Dontel Highsmith (10.5 ppg) underwent right knee surgery. Darrell Bowie (9.4 ppg) and Travon Baker (9.2 ppg) lead the unit now.
Central Michigan may not have many wins, but it can score well enough to give Northern Illinois a challenge on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Illinois 68, Central Michigan 66
02/12 10:45:28 ET