The Northern Illinois Huskies have pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Mid-American Conference. And they have been the victim of a big upset as well. Now they may be able to start making up for a season of disappointment when they play host to the Ohio Bobcats in the first round of the MAC tournament, which will take place at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, IL. Tip-off is 9 PM ET on ESPN Plus, and BetAnySports customers, who can get reduced juice before the game starts, can also access Live Betting Ultra for real-time wagering while the contest is in progress.
NIU (15-16 SU, 16-13 ATS) has a big win over Buffalo, which is nationally-ranked, but that isn't going to do them much good in this situation, because they aren't going to be considered for even the smaller tournaments like the CBI or the CIT if they can't finish over the .500 mark. And since they are one of only two teams to lose in MAC play to lowly Western Michigan, well, the upsets kind of even themselves out.
Ohio (14-16 SU, 10-19 ATS) has been kind of punchless for the most part, and even though they are in the nation's top 100 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (according to the metrics folks at KenPom.com), that hasn't quite made up for it. They are coming off a victory, however, as they held Miami of Ohio to 28% shooting in a 66-57 win on Friday.
In the NCAA basketball betting odds posted by the good people at BetAnySports, the Huskies are the favorites:
Northern Illinois Huskies -4
Ohio Bobcats +4
Over 139 points -110
Under 139 points -110
The guy Ohio needs to worry about on the glass is Lacey James, who was a standout in the first meeting between these squads. James had eight offensive rebounds that night, and it was not out of character for him, as he happens to be sixth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. NIU is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the MAC, and Ohio may be in the position where they have to stop them not once, but twice.
But here's what may be really distinctive about this matchup: the numbers demonstrate that NIU has been pretty successful in pushing opposing offenses out to the three-point line to take shots. If they can do that against the Bobcats they may be home free. In the two meetings this season, Ohio took 50 of its 111 shots from long range. That's 45% of their field goal attempts, which is a much higher percentage than the Bobcats (34.7%) have done on the season. And they made just 12 of those shots, with that accuracy rate of 25% representing something that is even lower than their 30.3% for the season, which is 338th in the country (meaning it is better than only 15 of the 353 Division I teams).
Furthermore, even though Northern Illinois' foul/free throw rate on defense is the highest in the conference, Ohio is limp at the charity stripe, dead last in the MAC at 60.1%.
So if you're following us, what we're intimating is that NIU can make Ohio do what it is least effective at offensively.And while the Huskies have failed to cover any of their last five at home, we also have to take note that not only has Ohio lost six of its last seven road games, they are 3-12 ATS in their last 15 as the visitor. So we're going to lay the points.
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