January 20, 2011

CMU hosts Northern Illinois tonight

Northern Illinois (6-9, 2-1 MAC) at Central Michigan (4-12, 1-2 MAC) 7 pm

All-Time Series: Northern Illinois leads 50-43

Last Season: (1/23/10) Northern Illinois 75, at Central Michigan 81

(2/24/10) Central Michigan 65, at Northern Illinois 67

Last Time Out: Northern Illinois W, 64-54 vs. Toledo

Central Michigan L, 55-64 at Ball State

Preview: With the help of 31 points from Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois defeated Toledo over the weekend to remain in a second-place tie in the West Division. Ranking in a tie for fourth nationally in scoring at 23.6 ppg, Silas is currently second in scoring in MAC play, trailing only his counterpart in tonight's game, Trey Zeigler. Central Michigan gave Ball State everything they could handle on Saturday but were ultimately done in by a second-half injury to Jalin Thomas that leaves the senior as a game-time decision. Thomas is the only CMU player to start every game this season. Central Michigan had taken eight in a row in the series until Northern Illinois sneaked out a two-point win in DeKalb last season.


Central Michigan will likely be without their second leading score in Thomas, and they have struggled to find an offensive rhythmn even with him in the lineup. However, NIU comes in with the worst scoring defense in the MAC, as they allow opponents to score over 75 points per game. On the other hand, CMU has played tight defense all year, but has rarely cracked the 60 point barrier.

This is a classic case of which team can overcome their weaknesses. CMU can't score, and NIU can't stop anyone. Will the Chippewas offense be able to keep pace with their defensive effort? Without Thomas, it's going to be tough. CMU will need someone besides Zeigler to step up and become a secondary scorer, and that's assuming Zeigler has a good night. If CMU is going to win, Derek Jackson, Finis Craddock or Andre Coimbra will need to step up and score...but that has yet to happen this season and it is unlikely tonight.

Northern Illinois: 68

Central Michigan: 61

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