The Northern Illinois Huskies have went from a record of 14-16 last season to 14-2 through the first 16 games this season. If you would have told me through 16 games the Huskies would even have eight wins I would have been grateful. Now after three conference wins we are starting to see some teams emerge as favorites to win their divisions. The Huskies are 11-0 at home this season turning the Convocation Center into a home court advantage.
A big reason the Huskies have had so much success is their stifling defense which is 18th in the country allowing only 62.5 points per game. A key to their defense is their rebounding as well being placed at 16th in the rebounding in the country so far at 42 per game. It seems like we keep repeating ourselves here but Marin Maric and Travon Baker have killed it in the early going for the Huskies. They are the bread and butter the senior guard and sophomore forward have revitalized the Huskies under coach Mark Montgomery.
The tide changes when we look at the Western Michigan Broncos (6-10) who put together a 6-7 record in non-conference play. They had an up and down schedule but still don't have a true road win on the season. They went 6-3 at home during non conference play while losing their four road games by 41 points. That number is inflated by a blowout loss at Vanderbilt but it still showed almost each loss by more than six points.
After moving into MAC play of course things changed they almost took down Kent State at home, played close with Akron on the road and then lost by 10 at home versus Ball State. It was a tough draw for the Broncos in their four games playing the top two teams in each division. The teams have combined for a record of 49-15 on that season.
The game will be played on Saturday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN 3.