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NIU

NIU men's basketball preview: Huskies vs. Toledo

NIU guard Zaire Mateen (5) drives to the hoop against Miami Redhawks guard Nike Sibande (1) in DeKalb Feb. 1.
NIU guard Zaire Mateen (5) drives to the hoop against Miami Redhawks guard Nike Sibande (1) in DeKalb Feb. 1.

Tip-off: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Toledo's Savage Arena

Records: NIU 13-9, 6-3 in Mid-American Conference; Toledo 11-11, 3-6

All-time series: Toledo leads 48-29. NIU went 1-2 against Toledo last season, including a victory in the MAC Tournament.

Who to watch: Noah McCarty will be joined by Lacey James in the post trying to stop Rockets forward Luke Knapke, who averages 15.9 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. They'll have to be wary of Knapke's 3-point shooting ability (35 of 91). Rockets leading scorer Marreon Jackson provides Eugene German his most fierce competition when it comes to the MAC scoring title. He enters at 19.2 points per game. McCarty, averaging 6.0 points per game this season, has reached double-digits in scoring in three of his last seven games.

The lowdown: The Rockets and Huskies enter as two of the better rebounding teams in the conference. NIU is first in rebounding margin (+5.4) and Toledo is tied for third, (+2.0), with Knapke and Willie Jackson (a MAC-best 12.2 rebounds per game), make for a unique battle with NIU's defensive-minded forwards. Toledo has lost three straight games while NIU has won four in a row.

Key to the game: NIU's superb 3-point defense, which stands at a MAC-best 29.6% allowed, has a chance to be tested against the Rockets, who make 9.4 rebounds per game, the second-best mark in the MAC. Hold Toledo under 35% percent, and NIU will be in prime position for a road win.

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