Buffalo (9-6) at Northern Illinois (7-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 25, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: NIU Convocation Center (9,100) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Buffalo 8-1, NIU 4-5. Away Record: Buffalo 1-4, NIU 3-5. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-1, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 3-2, NIU 1-4. Series Record: Buffalo leads, 15-13.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies and Buffalo Bulls get together for a Mid-American Conference tussle at the NIU Convocation Center on Saturday afternoon.
Buffalo has been scuffling of late, losing two of its last three decisions, following a four-game win streak. The Bulls are now 9-6 overall, which includes a 3-2 mark against the rest of the MAC, They will host their next outing against Western Michigan.
Northern Illinois has dropped three straight and four of its five contests in MAC play. The recent slide has dropped the Huskies to 7-10 overall, including a 4-5 mark on their home floor. They will visit Kent State and Ball State in their next two matchups.
The Bulls absolutely dominated the Huskies when the teams met on Jan. 8, earning a 67-46 win at home. The Bulls lead the all-time series, 15-14.
Buffalo was narrowly defeated on Thursday, falling in a 71-68 decision against Ball State. Javon McCrea scored 28 points and collected 11 rebounds in the contest, but the Bulls only knocked down 1-of-14 shots from beyond the arc.
McCrea (17.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.7 bpg) is one of the top post players in the MAC, if not the country. The 6-foot-7 forward is second in the conference in scoring and rebounding and third in blocks. His performance against Ball State earned him his eighth double-double of the season, and third in the last four games. Joshua Freelove (12.5 ppg) is the next best scoring option, with Will Regan (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) also getting in on the action. Jarod Oldham (7.8 ppg, 5.6 apg) makes up for a lack of scoring punch by leading the MAC in assists.
Even though Travon Baker scored a career-high 17 points, it was not enough to push Northern Illinois past Toledo on Wednesday, as the Huskies fell in a 77-68 final. NIU shot 43.8 percent for the game and had 17 turnovers compared to only nine assists.
The Huskies have a real issue when it comes to offense, as they rank dead last in the league in just about every offensive category, including scoring (62.4 ppg), assists (8.2 apg) and field goal percentage (.385). There is hope, however, with the team leading the conference in rebounding (38.4 ppg), while holding teams to 65.4 ppg. Darrell Bowie (9.4 pp, 6.8 rpg) is the leading scorer and rebounder for the squad, although he is connecting on only 36.2 percent of his field goal attempts. Bowie had 16 points on 5-of-14 from the field against Toledo.
If the Huskies are going to win this game they will need to severely limit McCrea's production. Although Bowie may be able to neutralize the Bulls' star to a degree, it won't be enough to stop him all together.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 72, Northern Illinois 64
01/25 10:14:59 ET