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Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 9, Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Mich., 2 p.m. EST.
Coming off a heartbreaking loss, Northern Illinois looks to stay in contention in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday when it faces divisional rival Eastern Michigan on the road.
Huskies rally goes for naught versus Ball State
Northern Illinois (12-11, 5-5 MAC West) is two games behind division-leading Toledo, but missed a chance to be closer after a tough 72-71 home loss to Ball State on Tuesday night.
— NIU Men's Basketball (@GoHuskiesMBB) February 8, 2019
The Huskies scrambled from a seven-point deficit with 1:37 to play to tie the game at 71 with four seconds left after Eugene German converted a layup, but Lacey James was whistled for a foul in the Ball State backcourt with 1.9 seconds to go, and Tayler Persons sank the go-ahead free throw before deliberately missing the second.
“Tough way to lose a game,” Huskies coach Mark Montgomery told NIU’s official website. “I liked our two-minute drill where we battled back. If we needed a two we got a two, if we needed a three (we got a three), we just didn’t execute and communicate at the end of the game, which was disappointing. It’s a teachable moment and it will help us in the long run.”
German finished with 17 points as Northern Illinois did itself no favors by letting Ball State amass a 28-8 edge in attempted free throws and 18-8 advantage in made ones. Opponents have attempted 77 more foul shots than the Huskies, who have compensated for some of that shortcoming by hitting 72.2 percent of their free throws compared to 68.4 percent by opponents.
German, who is second in the MAC in scoring at 20.0 points per game, has failed to shoot at least 40 percent in his last four contests. He is fifth in 3-point shooting at 41.0 percent but has gone 7 for 24 from deep in his last four outings.
The Huskies have lost back-to-back road games in conference play and five of seven overall after opening MAC play 3-0. They have also struggled at Eastern Michigan, losing eight straight there since a 55-52 victory in 2012.
Eagles struggling to take flight
Eastern Michigan (9-13, 3-6 West) could close within a half-game of Northern Illinois with a victory, which would be just its second in seven games.
🚨 EASTERN MICHIGAN STUDENTS 🚨
Gear up for Spring Break🌴 😎 at our game this Saturday against NIU! The first 500 students in attendance can pick up their FREE Tropical Block E shirt inside the Lakeshore Apartment Student Lounge!#DemandMore | #EMUEagles pic.twitter.com/T4ANRo4NgM
— EMUHoops (@EMUHoops) February 7, 2019
The Eagles have lost back-to-back contests after a 59-48 home loss to Miami of Ohio last Saturday. Boubacar Toure had 13 points and 14 rebounds while making 5 of 7 shots, but there was little in the way of consistent offense after him as Eastern Michigan shot 17 of 49 (34.7 percent) overall, including 3 of 19 from 3-point range.
It was the seventh double-double for Toure, who leads the MAC in shooting at 69.0 percent. The Eagles player accustomed to putting up double-doubles, James Thompson IV, came off the bench for just the second time in his career and had two points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Thompson is the active leader among Division I players with 68 double-doubles but has only nine this season while averaging 10.6 points and 10.3 rebounds. Elijah Minnie (14.1 ppg) and Paul Jackson (13.5) are also scoring in double figures for Eastern Michigan, which is shooting only 29.8 percent from 3-point range.
Eastern Michigan is:
- 1-5 ATS in its last six home games.
- 3-11 ATS in its last 14 home games vs. Northern Illinois.
- 2-5 ATS in its last seven games following an ATS loss.
- The over is 7-2 in its last nine games following an ATS loss.
- The over is 5-1 in its last six games following a double-digit loss.
- The over is 5-0 in its last five games vs. above-.500 teams.
Northern Illinois is:
- 10-3 ATS in its last 13 games vs. Eastern Michigan.
- 12-3 ATS in its last 15 road games following three or more consecutive home games.
- 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games following a straight up loss.
- The over is 5-2-1 in its last eight games vs. Northern Illinois.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Huskies have not lost three straight games all season, and they should be able to avoid such a skid with a straight up win here. Northern Illinois is capable of beating anyone in the MAC, evidenced by its upset of Buffalo, and should be eager to redeem itself after gifting Ball State a victory.
Eastern Michigan is a team that has failed to know its best five players most of the season as nine different players have started at least once. The Eagles, save their 34-point blowout of Kent State, have not been good at home, and a mature Huskies team should bounce back with a win.
Prediction: Pick: Northern Illinois +2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a trust pick in the Huskies, who are quietly one of the most efficient offenses in the country and one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation. The latter comes into play with an Eastern Michigan team that is middle of the road in perimeter defense but in the bottom half of Division I in terms of defensive efficiency.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 134.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
This pick is as much about the Huskies as it is against the Eagles. NIU has led at halftime in three straight MAC road games, while Eastern Michigan has trailed by eight or more in three of its four conference home games.
Prediction: Pick: Northern Illinois +1.5
Half-Time Total Bet
Despite taking the over for the full game, the expectation is the teams will not pick up the scoring pace until the second half. The Eagles have scored more than 33 first-half points just once in their eight home games, and the Huskies have scored 30 or fewer points in the first 20 minutes in three of their four MAC road games. NIU has also played three of those four conference road clashes to 58 and under, while Eastern Michigan has played three of four home MAC contests to 62 and below.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 64 points