Huskies Set to Face EMU in Cleveland

GO HUSKIES Senior Aksel Bolin
GO HUSKIES
Senior Aksel Bolin
GO HUSKIES

March 11, 2014

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Mid-American Conference Tournament Second Round    
No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies (15-16, 8-10 MAC) vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan Eagles (19-13, 10-8 MAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 / approx. 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET)
Site: Quicken Loans Arena • Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (Ohio) •  ESPN3
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill.  • NIUTube (NIUHuskies.com)
Live Stats: MAC-Sports.com

DID YOU KNOW?
• Over the last six games, NIU is shooting 75 percent (108-of-144) as a team from the free-throw line. The Huskies finished league play ranked fifth in the MAC in free throw shooting, connecting at 70 percent.
• NIU has advanced to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland for the second time in three seasons under Mark Montgomery. Prior to Montgomery’s arrival, NIU had lost nine-straight conference tournament games. Montgomery is 2-2 all-time in the MAC Tournament heading to Cleveland this week.  
• On Monday, Jordan Threloff earned All-MAC Honorable Mention recognition and Aaric Armstead was named to the MAC All-Freshman team.
Aaric Armstead is fourth in the MAC among freshmen in scoring (9.6 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (4.6 rpg) in conference play. Armstead is the only player that ranks in the top-five in both categories. In the last eight games, Armstead is averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
• In his last 15 games, Jordan Threloff is averaging 12.1 points per game, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line. Threloff is also averaging 8.5 rebounds per game during that stretch.  
• The Huskies are shooting 71.9 percent (351-of-488) from the free-throw line in the second half this season and just 63 percent (187-of-297) in the first half of games this season.
Darrell Bowie is averaging 11.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his last nine contests. Bowie has scored in double figures 13 times this season and has grabbed seven-or-more rebounds 17 times. Bowie missed the first game of his career at Western Michigan (March 4) due to illness, but came back with 17 points against Ball State in the regular season finale (March 8).
Pete Rakocevic is shooting 58.6 percent (17-of-29) from the field over his last 13 games. Rakocevic missed NIU’s first round contest with Bowling Green (March 10) due to illness.  
• NIU is ranked 18th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.7), 31st in three-point field goal defense (30.9 percent), 36th in scoring defense (63.6 ppg) and 42nd in rebounding margin (+4.6) as of the last NCAA Stats, released on March 10.
• Four of NIU’s last five losses have come by five points or less. The Huskies fell by three to Western Michigan (Feb. 9) and at Central Michigan (Feb. 23), by four at Eastern Michigan (March 1) and by five at Western Michigan (March 4). NIU’s other loss in the last 11 games came by eight, 62-54, at Akron (Feb. 15).  
• The Huskies have won eight games this season by seven points or less, NIU won just one game by seven or fewer points all of last season.
• NIU has played 12 games decided by five points or less, 15 games decided by seven points or less and 21 games by nine points or less.
• NIU’s 15 wins this season are more than the combined total from the two previous years (10). The 15 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
Aksel Bolin has appeared 113 games during his NIU career, tied for sixth-most in NIU history, but saw his streak of 86 consecutive games snapped at Ball State due to illness. The NIU record for career games played in 117, by Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson (2002-06).
• With the addition of two conference game and an unbalanced schedule in the MAC, NIU is one of three schools (Ball State and Ohio) to play the top-three seeds in the MAC Tournament twice in the regular season.
• The Huskies have lost 64 man games due to injury this season, not including redshirts, and are currently dressing nine scholarship players.

NIU IN THE MAC TOURNAMENT
• NIU is seeded seventh in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, its best seed since 2006 when the Huskies were seeded second. Prior to this season, NIU had been seeded 10th or worse for seven consecutive tournaments.
• NIU’s 17 steals in its MAC Tournament First Round victory over Bowling Green is just one shy of the MAC Tournament record of 18, set by Toledo against Central Michigan on March 7, 2002.
• In the first round of the tournament, NIU played its first conference tournament home game since 2003.. That season, NIU was seeded fourth and defeated Buffalo, 81-64, at home. The Huskies went on to defeat Western Michigan in the quarterfinals in Cleveland before falling to Central Michigan in the semifinals.
• NIU is 10-18 all-time in the MAC Tournament. The lone tournament title for the Huskies came in 1982 when they defeated Ball State, 79-75 in overtime, to claim the title.
• NIU is just 1-6 all-time in MAC Tournament games played at Quicken Loans Arena. The lone Huskie victory in Cleveland was a quarterfinal win over Western Michigan, 75-63, in 2003, also the last season NIU hosted a game in the MAC Tournament.
• Just four players on NIU’s current roster have played in Quicken Loans Arena. Of those four, only three will be dressed this season, Antone Christian, Kevin Gray and Aksel Bolin, the fourth, Keith Gray is redshirting this season.
• Since returning to the MAC for the 1999-2000 season, NIU is 4-14 all-time in the conference tournament. The Huskies had a nine-game losing streak from the 2003 semifinals through 2011 in the tournament. The streak was snapped when NIU defeated Eastern Michigan, 55-52, in 2012 in Mark Montgomery’s first MAC Tournament game at NIU.
• Under third-year head coach Mark Montgomery, the Huskies are 2-2 all-time in the MAC Tournament. Montgomery guided NIU to first round victories in 2012 and 2014. John McDougal is the only other coach in program history to guide the Huskies to wins in the MAC Tournament in multiple seasons. McDougal went 6-4 in the MAC Tournament between 1980-86. NIU’s only other MAC Tournament victories were a pair of wins in 2003 under Rob Judson.
• NIU is 5-0 all-time at home in the MAC Tournament with Monday’s overtime victory over Bowling Green. The Huskies won home quarterfinal contests in 1980, ’81 and ’82, along with their first round win over Buffalo in 2003.

SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
• NIU survived a game-tying triple with 1.5 seconds left in regulation to defeat No. 10 seed Bowling Green, 54-51 in overtime, in the MAC Tournament First Round on Monday night (March 10) at the NIU Convocation Center.
Jordan Threloff scored a team-best 13 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to pace the Huskies.
Aaric Armstead was the only other Huskie in double figures, he scored 12 points. Darrell Bowie filled the stat sheet with nine points, six rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocked shots.
• NIU had 17 steals against the Falcons, the most for the program since recording 17 against Illinois Tech on Dec. 17, 1997.
• NIU’s 17 steals was just one shy of the MAC Tournament record of 18, set by Toledo against Central Michigan on March 7, 2002.
• The Huskies scored 27 points off 22 Bowling Green turnovers while the Falcons converted just 10 points off NIU’s 16 turnovers.
• With the victory, NIU head coach Mark Montgomery improves to 2-2 all-time in the MAC Tournament as the Huskies advance to Cleveland for the second time in three seasons.
• The win over Bowling Green also gave NIU a five-game home winning streak to close the home slate, NIU’s longest home winning streak since winning six-straight between Jan. 12, 2005-Feb. 27, 2005.

THE TURNAROUND
• Third-year head coach Mark Montgomery has NIU headed in the right direction, after two years of laying the foundation of his program; the fruits of that labor are starting to show. Consider the following…
• NIU’s 15 wins this season are more than the combined total from the two previous years (10). The 15 wins are the most for a Huskie team since going 17-11 during the 2005-06 season.
• The 10-win improvement over last season’s five wins is the best single-season win improvement in school history.
• NIU’s eight conference wins are also the most for the Huskies since recording 12 during the 2005-06 season.
• NIU currently has a RPI of 199; the Huskies have not finished with an RPI above 260 since the 2005-06 season.
• The Huskies currently rank 205 in the KenPom ratings. NIU has not finished a season above 230 since the 2006-07 campaign.  
• NIU defeated Toledo, 74-66 on Feb. 26, the Rockets are currently ranked 36th in the RPI. The Huskies have not posted a top-50 RPI win since defeating Wisconsin, 55-51, on Dec. 14, 1999. The Badgers finished the 1999-2000 season ranked 21st in the RPI.  
• NIU is seeded seventh in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, its best seed since being seeded second in 2006. NIU is hosting a first round game in the conference tournament for the first time since 2003.
• The Huskies have won five road games this season, the most for the program since winning six in 2005-06.
• NIU’s 10 home wins are the most for the program since winning 12 during the 1994-95 season.
• The Huskies finished the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 6-6 record, marking the most non-conference wins for NIU since winning six in 1999-2000.
• NIU has had 78 double figure scoring games this season, NIU had just 46 such performances last year.
• The Huskies have had 45 seven-plus rebound performances this season; NIU had just 22 a year ago.
• In NIU’s 88-63 victory over Central Michigan (Feb. 12), the Huskies recorded their largest margin of victory over a conference foe (25) since defeating Eastern Michigan, 94-61 (33) on Feb. 26, 2006. NIU’s 88 points is the most for the program against a Division I opponent since defeating Chicago State, 99-93, on Jan. 6, 2010.
• NIU had a three-game winning streak from Jan. 29-Feb. 4, winning at Kent State and Ball State along with a home win over Miami (Ohio). The three-game winning streak is NIU’s longest since winning six-straight in the 2009-10 season (Jan. 2, 2010-Jan. 20, 2010).
• NIU defeated Bowling Green, 45-36, to record its first victory at Bowling Green since 2006. The 36 points allowed by the Huskies were the fewest allowed by NIU since holding Akron to 30 in a 48-30 victory on Jan. 26, 1991.