Huskies to Meet Western Michigan in MAC Second Round



March 6, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (5-25, 3-13 MAC) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (13-19, 6-10 MAC)
2012 FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Second Round
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tipoff: 6 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET)
Location: Quicken Loans Arena • Cleveland, Ohio
TV: SportsTime Ohio, ESPN3
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM in DeKalb and WJOL 1340-AM in Joliet

The Match-Up
Following a MAC Tournament First Round victory over Eastern Michigan on Monday night, Northern Illinois has advanced to take on Western Michigan in the second round on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The contest between the Huskies and Broncos features two of the top rebounding teams in the MAC as Western Michigan ranks second in the league in rebounding margin (+4.8) while NIU is third in the league (+3.0).

About Western Michigan
The No. 8 seed Broncos bring a 13-19 overall record to Cleveland, advancing by virtue of a 69-63 first round home win over Ball State. The balanced Western Michigan offense features four players who average in double figures. Demetrius Ward leads the way at 11.6 points per game while Flenard Whitfield (11.5), Matt Stainbrook (11.5) and Mike Douglas (10.9) all joining him in double figures. The Broncos are just 2-16 outside of Kalamazoo this season.

Against the Broncos
Western Michigan leads the all-time series against NIU, 50-29. The Broncos have won five-straight against the Huskies, including both meetings this season. Western Michigan earned a 77-68 win in Kalamazoo on Jan. 11 and a 78-53 victory in DeKalb on Feb. 15. The Huskies and Broncos have met three times previously in the MAC Tournament, NIU won the first two meetings in 1981 and 2003, Western Michigan won the most recent meeting, in the first round in 2007.

MAC Tournament History
Northern Illinois snapped a nine-game Mid-American Conference Tournament losing streak with its 55-52 victory over MAC West Division champion Eastern Michigan on Monday night (March 5). The Huskies’ last win prior to Monday was a 75-63 victory over Western Michigan in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Tournament. NIU is now 9-16 all-time in MAC Tournament play; the Huskies won the 1982 MAC Tournament, defeating Ball State in the championship game, 79-75, in Ann Arbor, Mich. NIU is the No. 12 seed in the tournament for jus the second time, the Huskies were the 12-seed in 2004 when they fell at Buffalo in the first round.

“Begin With The End In Mind”
That has been the mantra of the NIU men’s basketball team the entire season. “Begin With The End In Mind” is a saying that has adorned a photo of Quicken Loans Arena that hangs in both head coach Mark Montgomery’s office as well as the Huskie locker room. Coach Montgomery and his staff wanted the Huskies to understand that the goal the team was working towards was making an appearance in Cleveland for the MAC Tournament. NIU had not reached the Cleveland portion of the MAC Tournament since first round games returned to campus sites in 2010.

Stepping Up Down the Stretch
Tony Nixon has been playing his best basketball of the season over the last seven games, dating back to a Feb. 15 encounter with Western Michigan. Nixon has scored in double figures on four occasions in the last seven games, including a season-best 14 points in NIU’s MAC Tournament First Round win at Eastern Michigan (March 5). The South Holland, Ill., native is averaging 9.7 points per game over the last seven and has seen his season scoring average increase from 3.8 to 5.0 points per game.

First Timers
No player on the NIU roster has ever played a game at Quicken Loans Arena. Senior Tyler Storm is the only player who was on the Huskie roster the last time NIU played in Cleveland. Storm did not play in a 64-61 loss to Kent State in the 2009 MAC Tournament First Round.

Looking Ahead
The winner of Wednesday night’s second round contest will face fourth-seeded Kent State on Thursday night, March 8, at 7 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena.



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