Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#625 Akron -2.5 vs.
#626 Northern Illinois 134
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#625 University of Akron
#626 Northern Illinois University
13-3
9-7
9-5
6-9
7-6-1
5-10
76
68
63
64

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The Northern Illinois Huskies will host the Akron Zips for a Mid-American Conference clash at the Convocation Center in Dekalb, Illinois on Tuesday night.

The Zips enter with a 13-3 overall record and they’ve won each of their first three conference games. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has crept back above the 500-mark after winning two of its first three MAC contests. Can Akron stay undefeated on the road against the Huskies on Tuesday night?

Huskies making a habit out of playing close games

Northern Illinois got back on the winning track over the weekend, knocking off Eastern Michigan 71-68 behind 17 points from Eugene German. Noah McCarty chipped in 14 points for the Huskies, who have made a habit of playing close games as of late. Their last four games have been decided by three points or less.

Mark Montgomery’s squad enters the week ranked No. 180 in the latest KenPom rankings following their 2-1 start to the conference season. Northern Illinois has made strides on both ends of the floor through its first three MAC contests to help them creep back over the .500-mark. The Huskies have scored 97.1 points per 100 possessions for the season (241st in the NCAA) but that number has increased to a respectable 100.0 points per 100 possessions (8th in the MAC) through three MAC contests. Northern Illinois has struggled from the field this season, shooting just 45.8 percent from 2-point range (286th in the NCAA) and just 7.1 percent from the free-throw line as a team (266th in the NCAA).

On defense, the Huskies have surrendered 98.0 points per 100 possessions (123rd in the NCAA) and they rank fourth in the MAC with a defensive rating of 98.5. They rank second in the MAC, holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 45.1 percent. They have also limited MAC opponents to just 25.0 percent shooting from 3-point range (1st in the MAC).

Zips cruise to win vs. Ball State

Akron cruised to its fourth straight win over the weekend, taking down Ball State at home 75-60 on Friday night. Xeyrius Williams scored a team-high 23 points and hauled in 12 rebounds while Loren Christian Jackson chipped in 19 points and handed out eight dimes to help the Zips overcome an early 10-point deficit.

John Groce’s third season in Akron is off to a strong start and the Zips enter the weekend slotted at No. 71 in the latest KenPom rankings after winning 9 of their previous 10 games. Akron has scored 105.3 points per 100 possessions (74th in the NCAA) and they sport an effective field goal percentage of 51.4 percent (88th in the NCAA). Groce has given his squad the green light from long-range and they’ve responded by shooting a healthy 43.4 percent of their total attempts from 3-point range (48th in the NCAA) while hitting a blistering 38.0 percent of their 3-point attempts (20th in the NCAA).

On defense, the Zips have limited opponents to just 94.9 points per 100 possessions (79th in the NCAA) and an effective field goal percentage of 44.5 percent (34th in the NCAA). Akron has held its opponents to just 44.5 percent shooting from 2-point range and 29.6 percent from behind the 3-point arc (51st in the NCAA).

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Rating:

Northern Illinois has just one win against a team in the top-200, so it’s hard to expect them to go on the road and take down Akron in this game. The Zips have established themselves as a contender in the MAC and they rank in the top-100 on both ends of the floor. They also rank first in the MAC in both offensive and defensive efficiency through their first three conference games. The Huskies struggle with turnovers and they’ve shot the ball poorly from the charity stripe this season, which is going to make life tough for them in this spot. Take Akron to cover the number on the road in this MAC matchup on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Akron Zips -3

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rating:

These two teams play contrasting styles, so we’re likely going to end up in an average-paced game here. The Zips play fast, ranking 77th in adjusted tempo and 113th in average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois likes to slow the pace down. The Huskies rank 293rd in adjusted tempo and 214th in adjusted tempo on offense. They’ve also struggled from inside the arc and from the free-throw line, which has hampered their efficiency on offense this season. Akron also ranks just outside the top-50 in 2-point and 3-point defense, so take this game to stay under the projected total on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Under 135
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.