Talk about two teams trending in different directions: the Miami RedHawks have dropped their last three games after upending the Northern Illinois Huskies 69-67 in the MAC opener at home, while NIU has won three straight and is tied with Eastern Michigan and Ohio for the second best conference record in the league. Despite the skid, the RedHawks (8-9, 1-3 MAC) remain a very dangerous team after competitive games with Ball State and Akron, while the Huskies (11-6, 3-1 MAC) downed some good teams in Central Michigan, Kent State, and Bowling Green during their winning streak.
In the previous match-up, the ‘Hawks were horrendous at the free throw line as the shot 10-24 from the charity stripe and were also eviscerated on the boards as Northern Illinois had a 41-28 rebounding advantage. However, the Red and White were able to sink 11 three-pointers over the course of the game on offense while the defense frustrated the Huskies in the first half as it held the Huskies to 7-20 from the field, including 0-6 from long range. This style of play isn’t sustainable over the course of the season if you’re Miami, so it’ll be interesting to see what the adjustment is on its part.
Dontel Highsmith and Marin Maric didn’t have particularly great games against the RedHawks in the last go-around as they each had a lackluster ten points with Maric hauling in seven boards. The Huskies bench, meanwhile, came up big as it scored 31 as Eugene German dropped 13 on 5-7 shooting. On the other side, the veteran starters for the ‘Hawks came to play against NIU as Abdoulaye Harouna, Logan McClane, and Rod Mills Jr. combined for 47 points on the night while Michael Weathers had a complete game with 11 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, and a block.
In the rematch, look for Northern Illinois to try to get off to a fast start at home and get Highsmith and Maric involved in the game early. NIU has the advantage in depth, so if it can be aggressive on offense and force Miami to commit fouls early on in the game, that would be huge in the long run. Meanwhile, the RedHawks have to be able to adjust to what the Huskies are going to throw at them on defense and take good shots. NIU will likely do everything it can to keep the ‘Hawks three-point shooting from winning the game again, and Miami will have to make two-point jumpers if it expects to leave DeKalb with a win.
When: 8 p.m. EST, January 17, 2017
Where: NIU Convocation Center, DeKalb, Illinois
Watch: ESPN3, NIUHuskies.com All-Access
Listen: WMOH 1450 (Hamilton, OH), NIUHuskies.com All-Access
Line: NIU -10