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Central Michigan Chippewas vs Northern Illinois Huskies men's basketball preview: The Huskies look to get back on track at home

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NIU looks to rebound after a shocking loss to Western Michigan

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Huskies have been quite the surprise this season and come home after a shocking defeat in Kalamazoo last weekend. Their home record is at 11-0 this season and have turned the Convocation Center into a great advantage this season. The key this season has been NIU's defense. They only allow 64 points per game, good enough for 26th in the country. In their 3 losses this season they have given up 76 points per game which is 12 more than they average altogether.

On Saturday night a big reason why Northern lost was losing their star player Travon Baker to an ejection only five minutes into the game. The Huskies not only lost Baker but three players on their bench and were short the rest of the game. It'll be interesting how they handle the Chippewas as they average 78 points per game which is good for 87th in the nation. I'm looking at Baker to have a big game as he's had over 20 points in his three MAC games this season. He'll be motivated to play well after having an early exit on Saturday at Western Michigan.

Marin Maric has scored in double digits in 13 straight games and 15 of 17 this season. The sophomore from Croatia should be poised to have another huge game in front of the home crowd. A sleeper to watch is Aaric Armstead who scored 15 and had seven rebounds in Baker's absence. Another name to watch is Jaylen Key; he's shot 50 percent on 82 field goal attempts this year and could be great option of the bench going forward for the Huskies.

The Chippewas have two huge wins in the MAC beating Akron and Bowling Green, both who will be in the running this year for the title. Central Michigan is led by Braylon Rayson who has averaged 17 points on the season while shooting 44 percent on the season. The junior from Texas has put together three nice seasons with the Chippewas averaging over double figures each year. He missed Saturday's game due to a family funeral and is a huge part of their success for the season.

The game is on ESPN 3 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.