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2018-19 MAC Men’s Basketball Preview: Northern Illinois Huskies

After finishing 13-19 last season, what will this year have in store for the Huskies?

NCAA Basketball: Northern Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the Northern Illinois Huskies finished dead last in the MAC, with a 13-19 record, and won just a third of their conference games, going 6-12 against MAC teams.

This year, however, might be even worse.

In my Way Too Early Prediction, I said the Huskies would probably win 16 or 17 games this season but that number will most likely come plummeting down as, on Monday, it was revealed that three NIU players would be suspended indefinitely.

Three guards - Eugene German (Jr.), Dante Thorpe (Sr.), and Zaire Mateen (So.) - were arrested and charged with retail theft on October 24th and have since been suspended by the University.

It’s a huge blow to the Huskies as German was not just NIU’s leading scorer but, with 20.6 points per game, he also led the MAC in scoring. Thorpe was NIU’s third leading scorer, netting 10.8 points per contest, and Matten, a transfer, was supposed to have an immediate impact in this Huskie offense this year.

Along with losing that trio, NIU also lost another guard in Justin Thomas, who transferred to Morehead State this season.

In 2017-18 NIU was 11th (out of 12) in scoring offense but were supposed to return their top three scorers...however, they’ve now lost of two of those three players and will have to look to senior Levi Bradley to lead this offense. Bradley, a 6’7 forward, averaged 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year.

The Huskies will likely now start Alize Travis, a junior transfer, and Gairges Daow at guard. Last year for Pima Community College, in Tucson, Arizona, Travis averaged 12.1 points, 7.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Daow, who will enter his sophomore year with NIU, played nearly 22 minutes per game but didn’t do too much on the court, averaging just 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds.

NIU has a pretty manageable non-conference schedule that’s highlighted by games on the road against the Butler Bulldogs (December 8th) and #10 Michigan State Spartans (December 29th). But, with an already sluggish offense losing their key players, the Huskies will most likely struggle to find points and victories.

If the Huskies can get to 10 wins this year, that would be a victory for this team.