Miami (8-10, 2-4) at Northern Illinois (5-13, 2-4)
The Huskies enter Wednesday's game 2-4 in league play after losing by 4 at BG in their first crossover game. The Huskies have rebounded after losing their first 6 games of the year with victories over Lamar, Air Force, Arkansas-Little Rock, Toledo by 16 and Ball St. by 2, all at home. NIU has lost at Western by 17, at Central by 14 and Eastern by 4 at home in league play. NIU played at Indiana St. and lost by 10 in non-conference play. Coach Ricardo Patton has been forced to play 5 guys who hadn't played Division 1 basketball before after losing returnees Ryan Paradise and Zach Pancratz to injury. But NIU has played better of late and have defended their home court well, going 5-2 at the Convocation Center.
G Jarvis Nichols, 6'2 Jr. 10 pts, 3 reb. 39% FG, 34% 3PFG, 80% FT. JUCO transfer who has shot the ball well of late. After getting off to a slow start, he's shooting 52% from downtown in conference play.
G Darion Anderson, 6'2 Fr. 9 pts, 5 reb. 36% FG, 25% 3PFG, 71% FT. Big guard, especially for a freshman, weighs 200 lbs. Has had 20-point games and a double-double at BG.
F Sean Smith, 6'7 Jr. 7 pts, 3 reb. 42% FG, 88% FT. JUCO transfer from traditional power Vincennes. Athletic, scores well around the basket. Averaging 12 points in MAC play.
F Shaun Logan, 6'7 Sr. 9 pts, 5 reb. 45% FG, 39% 3PFG, 69% FT. Capable of putting up bigger numbers and has in certain games. Prone to foul trouble since he's the biggest (in terms of body) and most aggressive inside player. Had 9 and 5 against us last year.
C Egan Grafel, 6'10 Sr. 8 pts, 6 reb. 51% FG, 66% FT. Tall, but not very big. Good offensive rebounder. Had double-doubles vs. UMass and Ball St.
Off the Bench:
G Michael Patton, 5'10 Fr. 7 pts, 39% FG, 36% 3PFG, 67% FT. Coach's son. Hit 4 3s vs. Notre Dame and Western. Had 20 points off the bench vs. Western.
G Jeremy Landers, 6'2 Fr. 4 pts, 2 reb. 36% FG, 32% 3PFG, 57% FT. Struggling as of late, did get 14 off the bench in back-to-back wins over Lamar and Air Force.
F Michael Hart, 6'7 Sr. 5 pts, 2 reb. 50% FG, 70% FT. 1st year of really contributing. Hit double-figures twice off the bench earlier this year.
Offensively, NIU wants to play fast and maximize their athleticism. They're going to be aggressive, take quick shots and crash the boards. Nichols and Patton are dangerous from the outside, and Anderson is one of the better freshmen in the league. If they have to play in the half-court, NIU will run quite a bit of pick and roll or spread the floor and go 1-on-1.
Defensively, NIU will put a lot of man pressure on the ball and look to create steals with some overplay. However, with a lot of guys who are still learning how to play at the Division 1 level, their help defense isn't very good and they give up a lot of 2nd opportunities.
NIU is in the bottom 3rd of Division 1 in almost every statistical category. Offensively, they only shoot 41% from the floor, 31% from 3, and 67% from the line, not to mention they turn the ball over 18 times a game. The more possessions they can get, the more it gives them a chance to score. So controlling tempo will be vital. At the other end, they give up 75 points a game, 45% shooting, 40% from 3. Patience on offense, good shot selection and taking of the ball will be key.
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