Northern Illinois (3-23) at Central Michigan (8-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, February 26th, 2:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Northern Illinois 3-11, Central Michigan 4-6. Away Record: Northern Illinois 0-12, Central Michigan 2-12. Neutral Record: Northern Illinois 0-0, Central Michigan 2-1. Conference Record: Northern Illinois 2-11, Central Michigan 3-10. Series Record: Northern Illinois leads 51-45.
GAMES NOTES: The two bottom teams in the Mid-American Conference will face off at McGuirk Arena when the Northern Illinois Huskies take on the Central Michigan Chippewas.
This is the second meeting this season between these schools. Northern Illinois was the winner of the first matchup taking a 74-66 victory on its homecourt. The win was the was the first in two years for the Huskies against Central Michigan and puts its all-time series advantage at 51-45.
This season has been a miserable one for Northern Illinois, as the Huskies have compiled just a 3-23 overall record to go along with a 2-11 mark in the MAC which is the worst record in the conference. The Huskies were downed by Eastern Michigan on Wednesday for their fourth straight loss.
If Northern Illinois is looking for sympathy, it won't find any from Central Michigan, which has also had a forgettable season at 8-19 overall, including a 3-10 mark in conference play. The Chippewas fell to Toledo on Wednesday for their 11th loss in the last 12 games.
Northern Illinois faced the best defense in the conference against Eastern Michigan and didn't fare well. The Huskies shot just 30.0 percent from the floor including a 4-of-21 effort from three-point range, while turning the ball over 17 times in taking a 48-45 loss.
Facing a tough defensive squad is not a recipe for success for Northern Illinois as the Huskies are scoring only 54.9 points per game this season which is better than only Eastern Michigan. The Huskies are also the second worst shooting team in the country at 36.5 percent. The Huskies don't move the ball well on offense (9.3 apg) and have been less than successful defensively (68.3 ppg). On Wednesday two players tied for the team lead in scoring with just 10 points. Freshman forward Abdel Nader (10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) stayed right in line with his season average, while Tony Nixon (4.7 ppg) more than doubled his season average. Nixon has been playing better as the season nears its conclusion, scoring in double figures in three straight games after doing so only once the rest of the season.
Central Michigan kept itself in the game against Toledo on Wednesday but came up short, taking a 72-67 loss. The Chippewas shot a solid 51.9 percent from the floor but couldn't overcome the superior shooting of Toledo (.581) nor the Rockets' 18-8 advantage on points from the free-throw line.
Unsurprisingly, Central Michigan is also a poor offensive squad, netting only 61.2 points per game while shooting 39.4 percent from the floor as a team. Central Michigan does play better defensively in surrendering 66.7 points per game though. The Chippewas also have the benefit of one of the conference's best scorers on the roster. Sophomore guard Trey Zeigler (16.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is currently third in the MAC and is also the Chippewas' leading rebounder this season. On Wednesday Zeigler was the only player that seemed to be able to find the bucket, as he poured in a career-high 33 points on 15-of-25 shooting in the losing effort. Derek Jackson (11.1 ppg) and Austin McBroom (10.4 ppg) are the other players averaging in double figures this season. The Chippewas will most likely be without junior forward Olivier Mbaigoto (7.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
In a game of two squads that have very little going for them, it comes down to which team has the best individual player. In this matchup Zeigler fits that bill and with the Chippewas also playing at home, that should tip the scales in the Chippewas' favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 62, Northern Illinois 57
02/26 10:32:22 ET