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#MACtion here as the Bowling Green Falcons travel to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies. Bowling Green has been surprisingly strong in conference play and enters this one at 17-7, while NIU has lost five of their past six games and enters this one at 12-13. Oddsmakers have this game nearly even, so it should be a good one. It’ll be broadcasted by ESPN3.
Bowling Green Comes Out Of Nowhere
It’s been a strange year for Bowling Green basketball, in a good way. Michael Bruger is in his fourth year as coach, and the team had been mired in mediocrity his first three years, always finishing within a game or two of even .500.
Early on this season, it looked like they were headed that direction yet again. They started the year just 4-5, but then magically something clicked. They’ve gone 13-2 since then, and are in second place in the MAC standings. That being said, I’m still not completely sold. They’ve played a very easy schedule which helps explain their record. Their non-conference strength of schedule ranks 311th/353 on Kenpom, which makes their slow start much less excusable.
They did squeak by Buffalo at home, but other than that don’t have any other good wins. Every time they’ve been tested they’ve failed outside of that one game, and they haven’t been able to beat anybody but terrible teams on the road. They did win their most recent game against Western Michigan, a team that’s 1-11 in conference play and a complete doormat. When they played Miami of Ohio in their previous road game, they lost by 14 points. They’ve also lost to really bad teams like Cleveland State when asked to play on the road, so I don’t feel too great about their chances here.
I’ve been fascinated by this Northern Illinois team all year long. I had them circled coming into the year, but they’ve mostly been a disappointment. They’ve been up and down all year long, and enter this one in the middle of the pack of the standings sporting a slightly below .500 record.
They’ve been more down than up lately, losing five of their last six games. But of those five losses, only one was by more than eight points. Three of them were on the road, and one was to Toledo, one of the best teams in the conference. They also beat Buffalo earlier this year, and defend their home court really well. The thing I like most about this Huskies team is their experience. The lineup is full of seniors, and they’re one of the more experienced teams in the nation.
Broadcasters for the NIU-Oakland game today were discussing Eugene German's NBA aspirations.
The 2017-18 MAC's leading scorer worked out for the Bulls and Bucks in May before withdrawing from the 2018 NBA Draft.
German is averaging 21 points and 4 assists per game this year. pic.twitter.com/H1PTr94QNU
— Khobi Price (@khobi_p) November 26, 2018
All the guys about to graduate will be highly motivated to close the season out strong in their final ride together, and they should be locked in here. They’ve had a ton of really close losses recently, and feel like they’re on the verge of a breakthrough. They have a ton of talent, can shoot the ball well, and have one of the nation’s better scorers in Eugene German. While it hasn’t translated into the win-loss record they would’ve hoped to, they’ll be the team that everyone is afraid to play when it’s time for the conference tournament.
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a losing road record
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I love the Huskies. When the line is this close between two teams with dramatically different records, there’s a pretty good reason. These teams’ records are very misleading, and I still think NIU is the more talented team. They’ve covered eight of their last 11 home games, and will easily win this one outright.
Prediction: NIU +1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the under a lot here. After a slow start NIU’s defense is really picking up, and the under is 9-1 in their last ten games. The under is 9-2 the last 11 times these teams have played, and this late in conference play it should be a hard fought defensive struggle as the regular season gets ready to wind down.