#584 Northern Illinois University Huskiesvs.#583 University of Toledo Rockets
Written by Ricky Dimon
Toledo Rockets (13-13 SU, 13-11 ATS, 14-10 O/U) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (14-12 SU, 11-12 ATS, 14-9 O/U)
NCAAB: Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. EST
The Line: Pick ’em. Total: 139
The Northern Illinois Huskies will be hoping to halt a three-game losing streak when they host the Toledo Rockets at the Convocation Center on Saturday afternoon. Northern Illinois is coming off consecutive setbacks at the hands of Buffalo, Western Michigan, and Ball State. The Rockets had won two in a row before falling at Akron on Tuesday.
Toledo will be looking to avenge a loss from earlier this season, as it failed to take care of business on its home floor against Northern Illinois on Jan. 28. The Rockets fell 74-72 despite shooting better than 53 percent from the floor. They missed eight of 20 free-throws and lost the rebounding battle 36 to 27. The Huskies, meanwhile, went 28-for-58 from the floor (48.3 percent) and made half of their three-pointers (seven of 14).
The Rockets are also hoping to bounce back from letting a chance for a three-game winning streak slip away. They almost ended Akron’s 30-game home winning streak on Tuesday but could not maintain an 11-point lead with 10 minutes left. Senior forward Steve Taylor Jr. and sophomore forward Nate Navigato paced a balanced Toledo attack with 13 points apiece. Taylor is the only player in the Mid-American Conference to rank in the top 10 in points (15.8 ppg), rebounds (12.1 rpg), and assists (3.7 apg) per game.
Northern Illinois saw its losing skid hit three games when it fell to Ball State 81-72 in overtime on Tuesday. The Huskies led by five with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation but could not seal the deal. Ball State forced overtime and then scored the first 11 points in the extra frame to take complete control. NIU watched the Cardinals drain 14 three-pointers, including a 3-for-3 effort in OT. Northern Illinois has given up more than 70 points in six of its last eight outings.
“I thought we put ourselves in position to win the game, even though Marin Maric was in foul trouble pretty much the whole game,” head coach Mark Montgomery lamented. “Unfortunately, we did not close out the game with under four minutes to go…. [Ball State] had a lot of momentum going into overtime, I thought we made a valiant effort to get back in the game (in overtime), but they made a big three in the corner. They caught fire at the right time. Credit Ball State, but we didn’t close the game out like we should.”
The Toledo Rockets are:
The Northern Illinois Huskies are:
Both teams shot the lights out in their previous contest this season. The game should have been far more high-scoring than 74-72, but the Rockets made only 12 of 20 foul shots and the Huskies went a mere 11-for-19 from the charity stripe. Northern Illinois freshman Eugene German has delivered two straight 20-point performances. He was perfect from beyond the arc and at the free-throw line against Ball State. The over is 8-2 in the Rockets’ last 10 on the road, 8-2 in their last 10 on the road against opponents with winning home records, and 5-1 in their last six following a loss. It is also 7-1 in the Huskies’ last eight overall, 5-0 in their last five at home, 4-1 in their last five at home against opponents with losing road records, and 21-6 in their last 27 following a loss. Look for this one to go over the total.
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A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.