Northern Illinois (3-13) at Central Michigan (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: NIU 2-5, CMU 5-1. Away Record: NIU 1-8, CMU 1-6. Neutral Record: NIU 0-0, CMU 3-1. Conference Record: NIU 1-3, CMU 2-2. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads, 51-46.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Illinois Huskies look to turn things around as they challenge the Central Michigan Chippewas in a Mid-American Conference tilt at McGuirk Arena.
Northern Illinois leads its series, 51-46, but the Chippewas have won 11 of the last 13 meetings. The two teams split home games last year.
The Huskies were routed, 71-34, by to Western Michigan on Saturday, marking their third consecutive loss. 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 1-3 in the MAC standings. Kevin Gray tied a career-best with 13 points in the loss to WMU, but the NIU shot just 20 percent from floor and 8-of-16 at the charity stripe.
Abdel Nader went just 2-of-8 from the field for five points in the setback to the Broncos. The sophomore swingman paces the Huskies with 12.9 points per game on 33.9 percent field goal shooting. J.J. Cravatta is averaging 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in the last two contests. NIU will need more production out of its freshman Akeem Springs. The 6-3 guard has reached double-figures five times, not he failed to tally a point his last time out to mark his third consecutive game in single digits.
The Chippewas ended their brief two-game losing slide on Saturday with a commanding, 71-57 victory over Ball State. The decision pushed CMU to a 9-8 overall standing and into a 2-2 conference record, which places it in a four-way tie for first in the West Division. Kyle Randall is the fourth leading scorer in the conference at 16.5 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting from the floor. Olivier Mbaigoto has stepped up to produce 15 points and eight boards per tilt over his past two outings, making CMU a much more balanced unit on the offensive end.
Coach Keno Davis has seen his squad rise to fifth in the MAC with a 67.5 ppg output on the offensive end, but it still allows 68.8 ppg, which is the third most in the league. In the victory over Ball State, CMU hit 45 percent of its field goal tries, despite going just 5-of-24 from 3-point range. It managed to limit the Cardinals to 40.7 percent shooting and force them into 17 turnovers to overcome the inaccurate showing from long distance.
The Huskies come in as underdogs to the improving Chippewas. CMU's one-two punch of Randall and Mbaigoto will be able to lead the hosts to an easy win if they continue to thrive offensively.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 73, Northern Illinois 59
01/23 10:34:46 ET