Saturday afternoon on the college hardwood and a pair of teams from the Mid-American conference will square off as the Akron Zips grapple with the Northern Illinois Huskies at NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois.
The Zips enter this game off an 88-86 OT loss to Central Michigan on the road to fall to 1-1 in league play, while the Huskies are off an 83-70 road win over Miami-Oh, which put them at 2-0 in the MAC.
Zips Suffer Tough OT Loss To The Chipps
The Akron Zips are off to a decent 9-6 start to their year, but they have gone 0-3 in true road games so far. One of those road losses was in their last game as they fell at Central Michigan by a score of 88-86 in OT. The defense has been the strength of this team this year, but they allowed the Chippewas 76 points in regulation,. while allowing them to connect on 50.0% of their shots overall, including 40.9% (9/22) from long range. That is not the kind of defense that Akron has played for much of the year and they will focus on getting that defense back on track in this one. The offense also struggled in the game, despite scoring 86 points. The Zips have been one of the best shooting teams in the nation, but they hit just 44.0% of their shots overall, including 28.6% (10/35) from long range. The Huskies are below average on defense, so Akron will look for a better showing in this one. Leading their attack was Jimond Ivey (14.2 ppg), who had 24 points and 11 boards, while Daniel Utomi (15.7 ppg) had 18. The Zips have been ranked 104th by KenPom while taking on the 295th toughest schedule.
— Akron Zips MBB (@ZipsMBB) January 9, 2019
The Zips enter this game ranked 168th in the nation in scoring at 74.5 ppg, while also ranking 255th in shooting (42.9%), 220th in three-point shooting (33.4%) and 215th in free throw shooting (68.6%). On defense, they are 20th in points allowed, giving up 62.3 ppg, while also ranking 34th in defensive FG% (39.5%) and 63rd in three-point defense (30.8%).
Can NIU Keep Up Their Solid Play At Home
The NIU Huskies are off to the same 9-6 start, but they have been tough here at home where they have gone 5-1 on the year so far. KenPom has the Huskies ranked 123rd in the nation and they have played the 192nd ranked schedule. The Huskies have been playing well as they have won three of their last four games, including taking an 83-70 road win over Miami-Oh in their latest action. The Huskies had a huge shooting night as they hit 57.7% of their shots overall, including 50% (9/q18) of their shots from long range. It may not be that easy in this one as the Zips have been one of the better defensive teams in the nation so far. Dante Thorpe (12.5 ppg) hit 10/15 shots and scored a team-high 24 points in the win, while Eugene German (20.7) scored 23 and Levi Bradley (15.7 ppg) chipped in with 17. The defense has a nice showing as Miami hit just 43.1% of their shots overall, including 29.6% (8/27) from long range. The Huskies hope to have that same kind of defensive presence in this one as the Zips have been a decent offensive team so far.
RECAP: Four score in double figures and the Huskies shoot 58 percent in a 13-point road win at Miami. https://t.co/kREexwlDv7
— NIU Men's Basketball (@GoHuskiesMBB) January 9, 2019
The Huskies enter this game ranked 62nd in the nation in scoring at 79.6 ppg, while also ranking 14th in shooting (50.3%), 27th in three-point shooting (38.7%) and 186th in free throw shooting (69.6%). On defense, they are 213th in points allowed, giving up 72.7 ppg, while also ranking 236th in defensive FG% (44.2%) and 309th in three-point defense (37.1%).
Northern Illinois is:
- 7-0 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400
- 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games following three or more consecutive road games
- 1-5 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Northern Illinois
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Mid-American
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like the Huskies in this game. they have been playing well and are off to a 2-0 MAC start. They have averaged 86.8 ppg here at home, while the Zips have put up just 71.0 ppg on the road. We also note that the Home team is 6-0 ATS the last six games in this series and the Huskies are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games overall. This should be a tight game throughout, but the Huskies will make enough plays, in the end, to win it by five or more points.
Prediction: Northern Illinois -2
Full-Game Total Pick
I will be going with the Over in this one. Both teams have played solid defense this year, but the offenses should steal the show. NIU has averaged 86.8 ppg at home and they have allowed 71.2 pg in their home games as well. The Zips have been a decent offensive team all year and they have averaged 71.0 pg on the road, while allowing 74.7 pg away from home. The Over is 6-0 the last six games in this series and 6-1 the last seven meetings between these teams here in Dekalb.
Prediction: Over 139.5