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Eastern Michigan Eagles vs Northern Illinois Huskies men's basketball preview: Primetime Saturday game with early West implications

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After impressive opening wins for both schools this is a must watch game on Saturday Night on ESPN 3 in DeKalb, Illinois. James Thompson IV and Marin Maric lead both schools as they look to move to 2-0 on the season.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

As we move into the second contest for each school we've already seen some upsets with Buffalo beating Kent State last night and Ball State dismantling Toledo on Wednesday night.

Northern Illinois wants to keep this game under 80 points as that's there style grinding out victories with defense and rebounding. NIU's led most games by the duo of Travon Baker and Marin Maric who both have played outstanding this season.

Maric has shown great growth from his freshman season improving his numbers tremendously in all categories. He's improved his points per game by six, his rebounds per game by five and blocks per game by one. It's due to an overall minute increase from around 14 minutes a game to about 28 minutes a game in the young season.

Eastern Michigan is led by MAC freshman of the year candidate James Thompson IV, Raven Lee and Willie Mangum IV. The trio combines to score around 55% of EMU's total points per game. In their opening contest Eastern Michigan showed an impressive offensive display and broke out in the second half to score 54 points. If the three play up to the hype tonight, it's going to be a tough contest for NIU as it's going to have to limit their possessions with turnovers and strong rebounding.

Another look at Thompson, he's shown many great things so far and shot 70 percent from the field, tied for fourth in the nation. His last five games against North Florida, Louisville and Central Michigan he's combined to score 72 points grab 52 rebounds and shooting 32 of 40 from the field or 80%. It's been an amazing scene to watch through the first 14 games and with time could develop into a conference player of the year in the future.

The game will be featured on ESPN 3 at 8:30 pm Eastern.