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Bulls set to open MAC play against NIU

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Buffalo v Northern Illinois

After wrapping up non conference play with a sweep of Saint Bonaventure the Bulls are set to open up their MAC slate versus Northern Illinois.

The Huskies were predicted to have an up year, picked second in west when the preseason poll was released but things have not gone their way through the early months.

Aside from a loss to US Davis there are not any terrible showings on their record but they’ve missed a lot of would be decent wins. Most recently against Green Bay. Their best win came against Oakland.

What’s been the issue for NIU?

Their defense is solid, they are a top 100 team in multiple defensive categories. The effective field go percentage of their opponents is only 46.7. They also rebound on the offensive glass well and they don’t turn the ball over all that often.

The problem is they are not doing a good job setting up shots. NIU themselves only shoot at a 46.9 clip, which is in the bottom third of division 1 teams. That leads to 66.2 point per game, ranked #260.

NIU’s offense, such as it is, runs through Eugene German. The preseason all MAC first teamer is averaging more than 20 points a day. He also leads the Huskies in assists and steals. The man is a beast and will be a big challenge for the Bulls defense.

Down low UB will have to contend with Lacey James a 6’9” forward pulling down almost eight rebounds a game. Having Brock Bertham back four depth in the paint could be a huge part of this game for Buffalo.

If Bertham and Josh Mballa can reduce the number of second shot opportunities then the Bulls should be able to outpace NIU on the scoreboard.

Tipoff is 2pm and the game will be shown on ESPN+

Stat NIU BUFF
Points/Game 66.2 78.5
Avg Score Margin +1.5 +1.9
Assists/Game 9.8 16.8
Total Rebounds/Gm 38.5 41.7
Effective FG % 46.9% 50.2%
Off Rebound % 28.5% 33.6%
FTA/FGA 0.283 0.275
Turnover % 16.1% 17.0%
Opp Points/Game 64.8 76.6
Opp Effective FG % 46.7% 49.5%
Off Rebounds/Gm 9.8 12.4
Def Rebounds/Gm 25.6 25.5
Blocks/Game 2.8 4.1
Steals/Game 5.6 8.7
Personal Fouls/Gm 16.6 18.5