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Basketball Preview: We’re Talking Northern Illinois

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Mutt as well mark it down as a win as we are pretty paw-sitive that is what is going to happen

NCAA Basketball: Iowa State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Last Time Out

If it seems like it has been awhile since we saw the Iowa State men’s basketball team in action that is because it has been awhile. Nine days to be exact.

Last time out the Cyclones pulled away from a different directional Illinois school (Western Illinois) in the second half en route to a 70-45 victory over the Leathernecks.

Lindell Wigginton led all scorers with 21 points and 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Fellow freshman Cameron Lard tallied 14 points and 5 rebounds for the Cyclones.

Jakolby Long did not play due to concussion protocol but should be good to go for this game against the Huskies.

About Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois, a member of the MAC, will bring their entire team to Ames just years after allowing a couple of former Huskies to visit and stay in Ames for good in Abdel Nader and Darion Anderson.

The Huskies will enter the game as mastiff under....dogs. They enter the game at 5-3 with a similar result against one common opponent, a 75-62 loss to Milwaukee.

The Huskies will tip-off Monday evening as KenPom’s 248th ranked team. Their adjusted offense and defense both lie outside the top 200 in the country. Their one strength is not allowing opponents to sniff out turnovers when they have possession of the ball. They have the lowest percentage (3.1%) of offensive possessions ending in a steal in the nation.

Don’t expect Mark Montgomery’s Huskies to light it up from long range. Northern Illinois takes very few three point shots and tries to do most of their damage from inside. Almost 60% of their points are scored as a result of a two point basket, 12th in the nation.

Players to Watch

Eugene German is the main pup for Northern Illinois. When German, who is actually from Gary, Indiana, is on the floor he takes 34.7% of his team’s shots. He his averaging 19 points per game on around 15 shots per contest. Understandably, defenses have tried to hound this Husky resulting in him drawing 6.4 fouls per game.

While German is the leader of the pack, Levi Bradley has made for a good sidekick. Bradley contributes over 15 points and 5 rebounds per contest. He has yet to miss a free throw on 23 attempts and shots at a 60% clip from two point ranges. Bradley fetches and corals the defensive rebound 17.8% of the time when he is on the court. Don’t expect this pup to share his bone. He has only tallied four assists on the year.

Dante Thorp has the best offensive rating on the team at 126.3. While is usage is significantly lower than German’s Thorpe has been able to shoulder a significant portion of the scoring load at 10 points per game. Despite being on a shorter leash, he has a very nice true shooting percentage of 69.2%.

What to Expect

This one may be a dog fight for awhile before things start to become pretty ruff for the Huskies. One of the most dangerous things a giant underdog can do is play the three point shot lottery. If their past games this year have been any indication, the Huskies don’t particularly like taking this gamble. It will be hard for Northern Illinois to stay in this game without doing damage from deep.

Iowa State has improved dramatically since their season opening loss to Missouri down in Columbia. This is now the second time already on the young season that Steve Prohm has had a week to work exclusively with his team without any games to be played. We may see some rust at first, but the Cyclones should come out with an increased sense of continuity and Cameron Lard’s role will continue to increase.

With a hapless Iowa squad looming on Thursday, the Cyclones could benefit from a taking the bark out of this pack early in order to coast to an easy win.

I predict the Cyclones will struggle with their shot early, but are carried once again by fabulous freshmen Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard as the Cyclones pull away late in the first half and never look back.

Iowa State- 82 Northern Illinois- 55

Pick 3

1. Jeff Beverly connects on his first three point shot of the year! Yes, I’m going to include this one every game until it becomes true.

2. Hans Brase gets into double figures for the first time this season.

3. Cameron Lard records more minutes than Jeff Beverly

Game Notes

Game Time: Monday, December 4th, 8 PM

Line: N/A

TV: ESPNU