Northern Illinois vs Iowa State Preview and Prediction
Northern Illinois vs Iowa State Preview
Iowa State suffered two losses to open the 2017-18 season, but has rolled off four straight victories en route to their 4-2 record. They will come into this non-conference game fresh as they haven’t played since Nov. 25th, a victory 70-45 against Western Illinois.
The Cyclones have been hot offensively during their four-game winning streak, increasing their scoring average by 24.7 points per contest (57.5 to 82.2) and their field-goal percentage by nearly eight percent (38.8 to 46.6). The guard trio of Nick Weiler-Babb (14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists per game), Donovan Jackson (15.8 ppg), and Lindell Wigginton (13.0 ppg) has provided a majority of Iowa State’s offense this season. Head coach Steve Prohm is happy about his team’s defensive performance, though, in its most recent outing–when it held Western Illinois to a 32.8 percent shooting.
With eight overall newcomers to the team this season, Prohm embraced the time off and held practices with smaller groups so he was able to work closer with players and focus on specific aspects of the game that had to be addressed after six outings. The switch of Weiler-Babb to point guard was made after the first two contests as opposed to at the start of the season. so Prohm finally had a large chunk of time to practice with Weiler-Babb running the show.
This isn’t the same Cyclones teams of years past, which included solid NBA prospects like Monte Morris and Georges Niang–but with solid coaching and team basketball they can be a middle of the pack team in the Big 12.
While Iowa State comes in rested, the same can’t be said of Northern Illinois who had only one day of rest between their last game (a 90-77 win over Chicago State) and their matchup tonight against Iowa State.
While the focus was on the Huskies’ offense in an 18-point victory over Chicago State, head coach Mark Montgomery has been getting on his team to play better defense. Northern Illinois’ 95 points were aided by a stifling first-half defense that held the Cougars to 34.5 percent shooting, including 21.4 percent from three-point range en route to a 19-point lead. Montgomery, a former assistant to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, believes his team must play solid defense and rebound to be competitive. Northern Illinois swingman Levi Bradley is shooting 93.1 percent from the free-throw line, good for second in the Mid-American Conference and 32nd in the nation. He is 18 for his last 18 at the charity stripe.
Northern Illinois has had a solid start to the season and Iowa State is not the same Cyclone team of old—which would make for a close matchup, but that won’t be the case tonight. Northern Illinois hasn’t played a team close to Iowa State’s caliber–their best victory came against Manhattan, which is a mid-level team in the MAAC.
LINE: -15.5 Iowa State
Iowa State 91 Northern Illinois 68