Loyola-Chicago (3-2) at Northern Illinois (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (10,000) -- DeKalb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 2-0, NIU 1-0. Away Record: Loyola 0-1, NIU 0-2. Neutral Record: Loyola 1-1, NIU 0-0. Conference Record: Loyola 0-0, NIU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 16-16.
GAME NOTES: The Huskies of Northern Illinois try to even their record on the season, as they tangle with in-state rival Loyola-Chicago in non-conference action.
The Huskies, members of the Mid-American Conference, began the 2012-13 campaign with a pair of setbacks against Nebraska Omaha and Valparaiso, both on the road. Last weekend, the program finally broke into the win column with a resounding 72-54 triumph over Judson University at home. This is the second in a three-game homestand for NIU, with Illinois-Chicago also on the list for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Ramblers are a team that began the new season with back-to-back victories over Toledo and Rockhurst before falling to Western Michigan and USF away from home. Last Sunday the squad again moved over .500 thanks to a 62-46 thumping of Maryland-Eastern Shore.
According to NIU records, the all-time series between these two teams is tied at 16-16 as it dates back to 1926. Even though they are even at this point, Loyola has taken four of the last five encounters, including a 72-62 victory in the most recent meeting back in 2008.
Against Maryland-Eastern Shore Ben Averkamp was the star of the game as he not only posted 27 points and eight rebounds, he also became the 19th player in program history to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career with the Ramblers. Outside of Averkamp, no one else scored in double figures for Loyola as the team shot 47.1 percent from the floor but a mere 3-of-18 behind the three-point line. After five games, Averkamp is the leader in both scoring and rebounding for the program with averages of 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest, his eight blocked shots also accounting for the majority of the squad's 11 rejections. Because of Averkamp and his 20-of-22 accuracy at the free-throw line, Loyola is one of the top free-throw shooting teams in the country at 77.6 percent, compared to just 65.4 percent for the competition.
Sam Mader and Akeem Springs each scored 16 points as Northern Illinois earned the 18-point victory over Judson University in the most recent outing here in DeKalb. Kevin Gray chipped in with 10 points as he came up two rebounds shy of recording a double-double for the hosts who ended up shooting close to 50 percent from the floor but only a disappointing 3-of-15 behind the three-point line. NIU put the game away by closing out with a 17-2 scoring run. Springs, who is shooting only 33.3 percent from the floor and 23.8 percent out on the perimeter, is the lone double-digit scorer for the group after three games with his 11.0 ppg. Overall this is a program that just doesn't shoot the ball consistently, knocking down only 24.5 percent beyond the arc and a dismal 57.7 percent at the charity stripe, en route to 60.7 ppg.
With Averkamp working in the paint the Ramblers always have a chance to register a win, but he'll need more support moving forward in order for that to happen on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Chicago 63, Northern Illinois 56
11/24 10:38:26 ET