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2018-19 MAC Men’s Basketball Way Too Early Predictions: Northern Illinois Huskies

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Can the Huskies escape the MAC cellar and make a run in 2018-19?

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

Last season the Northern Illinois Huskies started off decently before falling apart towards the end, winning just four times in the final 15 games of the season. NIU finished with a record of 13-19 (6-12 in conference play) - both of which were worst in the MAC.

The one bright spot for the Huskies was guard Eugene German. German, who opted to stay at NIU for his junior season, led the MAC in scoring last year with 20.6 points per game. He finished the season shooting 47.1% from the floor and 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

But the Huskies will get to keep their top three scorers from last year. Besides German, NIU also returns seniors Levi Bradley and Dante Thorpe, who averaged 14.6 and 10.8 points per game respectively. Bradley was also NIU’s leading rebounder last season with 5.5 per game.

However, NIU will need to find a way to score more points while giving up less. The Huskies were 11th in scoring offense, averaging just 70.6 points per game (only EMU was worse), and also sat in 11th in scoring defense, allowing 77.2 points per game (only Akron allowed more). They also were dead last in assists per game (just 7.8 per game...no other team had less than 11 assists per game), so sharing the ball is a must this season.

And, with the addition of two new guards - sophomore Zaire Mateen and junior Alize Travis - hopefully the offense will be able to produce more points and assists. Last seasons Mateen, who transferred from Laramie County Community college in Wyoming, averaged 17.6 points, 4.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game while Travis, who played for Pima Community College in Arizona, averaged 12.1 points, 7.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

The Huskies have a very manageable non-conference schedule with games at Butler and at Michigan State highlighting the season.

If German can produce the same offensive numbers and if Mateen, Travis, and Bradley are able to make an impact on offense, the Huskies could see their win total climb. They wont win the MAC but they could make a solid run. I would say a 16 or 17 wins would be a victory for the Huskies.