Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#671 Western Michigan 135 vs.
#672 Northern Illinois -5.5
Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 4:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#671 Western Michigan University
#672 Northern Illinois University
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The Western Michigan Broncos will head on the road to the Convocation Center in Dekalb, Illinois on Saturday afternoon for a Mid-American Conference tilt against the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Northern Illinois is trying to climb back above the .500-mark for the first time in MAC play after evening up their conference record at 3-3 earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Western Michigan has lost four of its last five conference contests to enter with a 2-5 league record. Can the Broncos bounce back with a win on the road against Northern Illinois on Saturday afternoon?

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Broncos fall short on the road vs. Buffalo

Western Michigan was unable to keep its momentum going on Tuesday, losing on the road to Buffalo 90-79. Brandon Johnson and Titus Wright scored 18 points apiece for the Broncos, while Michael Flowers added 12 points and five assists in the loss. Western Michigan went cold from the field in the second half and turned the ball over 16 times to lose for the fourth time in their last five conference games.

Steve Hawkins’ squad enters the weekend slotted at No. 251 in the latest KenPom rankings after going 2-4 through their first six MAC contests. Western Michigan has scored 100.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (197th in the NCAA) and 103.2 points per 100 possessions during conference play (7th in the MAC). the Broncos haven’t been efficient on offense but they attack the basket and get to the free-throw line at a high rate. Through seven conference games, they sport the second-best free-throw rate in the conference at 34.5 percent and they’ve connected on 76.9 percent of their free-throw attempts as a team (2nd in the MAC).

On defense, the Broncos have surrendered 107.6 points per 100 possessions (295th in the NCAA) and a whopping 108.2 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (11th in the MAC). Opposing teams have been able to get nearly whatever they’ve wanted on the inside against the Broncos defense. MAC opponents have shot a blistering 54.1 percent from inside the arc (12th in the MAC) while sporting an offensive rebounding rate of 31.7 percent (12th in the MAC) against the Broncos’ defense so far this year.

Huskies get back on winning track vs. Kent State

The Huskies snapped a two-game slide on Tuesday night with a 76-69 victory on the road against Kent State. Eugene German scored 17 points and Lacey James added 16 points for the Huskies, who overcame an early 10-point deficit to improve to 3-3 in conference play.

Mark Montgomery’s squad enters the weekend ranked No. 183 in the latest KenPom rankings after winning for just the fourth time in their last 11 games. Northern Illinois has scored 98.3 points per 100 possessions for the season (239th in the NCAA) and only 98.0 points per 100 possessions during conference play (10th in the MAC). The Huskies rank near the bottom of the conference in most major offensive categories. They sport an effective field goal percentage of 46.2 percent (11th in the MAC) and have shot just 45.0 percent from 2-point range (11th in the MAC) and 32.5 percent from beyond the arc (9th in the MAC) during league play. However, they’ve managed to stay in games by crashing the offensive glass and hauling in an impressive 31.7 percent of their missed field goal attempts in conference play (1st in the MAC).

On defense, Northern Illinois has given up 99.7 points per 100 possessions (135th in the NCAA) and 101.7 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (4th in the MAC). Through six MAC contests, Northern Illinois has limited opponents to an effective field goal percentage of only 46.7 percent (2nd in the MAC), including just 29.4 percent shooting from 3-point range (1st in the MAC).

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The Huskies should have the advantage in this game. Northern Illinois ranks as the second-best effective field goal percentage defense in the conference and they excel at generating second-chance points on the offensive glass. The Huskies rank first in the conference in offensive rebounding rate while the Broncos are the worst defensive rebounding team in the MAC. Western Michigan also ranks as the worst 2-point shooting defense in the conference and Northern Illinois does most of its damage from inside the arc, so I’ll take my chances with the Huskies at home in this MAC battle on Saturday afternoon.

 

Prediction: Northern Illinois Huskies

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Neither of these teams plays particularly fast and they both rank near the bottom of the conference in terms of their efficiency on offense. Northern Illinois ranks 303rd in the nation in adjusted tempo and 226th in average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, Western Michigan comes in at No. 263 in adjusted tempo and No. 241 in average possession length, so we should get a fairly slow-paced game in this one. Add in the fact that the Huskies have held opponents to just 29.4 percent shooting from 3-point range and this game should have no issues staying under the projected total on Saturday. 

Prediction: Under
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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.