If you’re one of many Americans dealing with a post-Valentine’s Day winter storm, perhaps you want to kick back in your warmest attire and pass the time with some Tuesday day betting.
Fortunately, the MAC is at your service, as the Akron Zips (12-4, 10-3) look to move into a share of first place when they play host to MAC basement dweller Northern Illinois (2-11, 1-7).
Here’s the skinny of everything you need to know about today’s MACtion.
Akron Looks to Avenge Earlier Loss to Huskies
The Zips enter today’s game with revenge on their mind as NIU landed one of their two victories on the season against this same Akron team back on January 12th in a 67-65 home win as 8.5-point dogs.
— NIU Huskie Athletics (@NIUAthletics) January 13, 2021
However, since that loss the Zips have been scorching hot, going 8-1 straight up and against the spread including home blowout victories over Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Ball State, all of whom are better teams than their opponents today.
When looking back to their January 12 loss to NIU, it just looks like your good old-fashioned bad night on the road. The Zips shot especially bad from three-point range, going 9-29 from deep, and were ice cold at the line shooting just 46% from the charity stripe.
Each stat line should be considered quite the outlier considering how the Zips have fared since.
Akron’s top player, senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson, also posted his second-worst scoring output of the season that night but has been sizzling hot of late scoring 22.5 points per game in his last six outings and 26 points per contest in his last three games.
This has all the makings of a game where Akron will come out looking to get the bad taste out of their collective mouths from what went down a month ago.
Northern Illinois’ Season to Forget
The Huskies began the season with just one win (64-54 over Chicago State) in their first ten games before their upset home win over Akron that we discussed above.
That led to the dismissal of head coach Mark Montgomery, and following a 78-58 loss at the hands of Ball State on January 16, NIU fell into the COVID-19 trap that saw the team halt team activities leading to the Huskies missing their next six games.
NIU finally returned to action after almost a month off and was promptly blown out by Kent State in an 80-58 road loss on Saturday.
While momentum is hard to quantify, particularly with sports betting, one can’t help but wonder just how excited NIU is to be playing in this game today considering how terrible the season has gone.
It doesn’t help matters that the Huskies are entering the hornets’ nest today, facing an Akron team chasing the MAC regular-season crown and playing their best basketball of the season.
This has all the makings of yet another road blowout.
Players to Watch on Both Sides
As mentioned earlier, Akron is paced by 5’8” senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson (21.6 ppg, 6.4 apg, 87% FT, 34.7% 3PM).
Jackson pairs with junior guard Bryan Trimble Jr. (12.5 ppg, 90.9% FT, 40% 3PM) to give the Zips one of the better backcourts in the MAC.
John Groce has a backcourt and it's lethal. Akron's duo of Loren Cristian Jackson and Bryan Trimble has serious mid-major pop. Fun race in the MAC with the Zips and Toledo.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 6, 2021
And while each guard is on the smaller end (Trimble is an imposing 6’2” in comparison to his diminutive backcourt complement), Northern Illinois is simply not the team that will expose the small Akron tandem.
The Akron backcourt had a poor night in their earlier loss to this same NIU team, but that could be attributed more to bad shooting than anything related to the Huskies defense.
The Huskies are also led in scoring by their backcourt tandem of Tyler Cochran (13.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 50% 3PM) and Trendon Hankerson (12.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 31% 3PM).
If you notice, the starting backcourt also leads the team in rebounding. Another weird stat from that January matchup is that Akron was outrebounded 41-33 by a smaller team, which hammers the point home that Akron shot like Carlton Banks more than Stephen Curry in that fluke loss.
Northern Illinois – Akron Betting Pick
Despite the big number, these are two teams going in very opposite directions. Akron is a different team at home, the vastly superior team in this matchup, and has revenge on their mind.
While laying 16 points isn’t the most ideal situation for a best bet, we think Akron wins this one comfortably and moves into first place in the MAC.
Pick: Akron -16 (-105)
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