Yes, the football season is over. Now what? Time to follow our basketball team through their journey playing one of the toughest conferences in the nation: The MAC West! But first, the final OOC opponent.
Yes, you read that right: Northern Illinois is 21-0 against Chicago State. Amazing, huh? The 93-81 win over CSU in Dekalb last year counted for 10% of our total victories. Will this year's game be another offensive explosion or a defensive battle? Statistical analysis and predictions after the jump.
Remember that high-flying offense that led them to 18 victories last year? Well, they only return one starter from that loaded roster they had. That player is 6'7" JR Carl Montgomery, who leads the team in scoring with 13.2 PPG and in rebounding with 8.3 RPG. Their tempo on offense has also slowed way down from 4th to 188th.
Chicago State's played an easier schedule so far, racking up 3 wins against non-Division I teams. They even lost to NAIA Olivet Nazarene 68-75 at home! Their other 2 wins were from teams in the Maryland Eastern Shore type of talent level.
It's hard to find a lesser efficient offense than NIU (#303) in the Pomeroy ratings, but CSU's is ranked 7th worst in D-I (#341). Their defense has improved a little from last year, but they still rank 270th compared to NIU's 186th ranked D. I could go on and on about how their offense is just a tad worse than ours, but they're right around in the same range if you take the whole season into account.
The key to this game is going to be how well the Huskies play D and rebound the ball. Sean Kowal and Jake Anderson have been all over the offensive boards, as the Huskies rebound 37.3% of their misses, ranking 46th in the nation. Michael Fakuade is actually the best offensive rebounder on the team, but foul trouble usually puts him on the bench.
CSU's main advantage over the Huskies is the ability to get to the line and make free throws. They barely take any three pointers, so they'll try to drive it inside to get some calls. Looking ahead, that's also Ball State's main strength. The important thing to do is to not be excessive with fouls and the Huskies themselves need to get to the line more and...make free throws.
This should be a nice final tune-up before conference play starts in Muncie on Saturday. The offense needs to get in perfect sync from now on. 72-55 Huskies.
Winner of the best name for Chicago State: Pawel Kielbasa. Or maybe I'm just hungry.