Pick Northern Illinois To Take 3rd-Straight Win In Series vs. Toledo

Willie Bee

Friday, January 22, 2016 12:20 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 12:20 PM UTC

Northern Illinois puts a long home winning streak on the line Friday when the Huskies host the Toledo Rockets, and we've got a free college basketball pick for the MAC showdown.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Huskies Pick 'Em
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Well, lookie what we have here. Yes, it is another boring Friday night on a short college hoops slate, but at least we do have a battle of top clubs from the Mid-American Conference that not only includes the lead in the West Division being up for grabs, but also has a quick revenge factor working.

Welcome to the Convocation Center on the Northern Illinois Campus where the Huskies will greet the Toledo Rockets for a 6:30 PM (ET) showdown that can be seen on the CBS Sports Network. Northern Illinois is presently holding a one game lead over Toledo at the top of the West standings in the conference, and positioning is extremely crucial in the MAC. First round games are played at school sites for those teams seeded 5-8 while the 1-2 slots in the league get a bye into the semifinals, the last few rounds of the event scheduled for March 10-12 at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.

BetOnline sent this one out with the Huskies giving up 1½ before the contest settled into a pick 'em overnight. The early total is 147½.


Huskies Taking Aim At 3rd-Straight Win In Series
The schools met in Toledo just 10 days ago, this quick turnaround finding the Rockets looking to return the favor for having been beaten at home by the Huskies, 71-66. Toledo was giving up 6½ on the NCAA basketball odds then, the contest finishing nicely 'under' a 145½ point total to stop a 4-game run for 'over' bettors when the two get together.

It was a close game throughout, Northern Illinois scoring eight points in the final minute to pull off the upset. Travon Baker led the Huskies with 23 points, Marin Maric chipping in a double-double (16 pts, 12 reb). They're also the leading scorers for Mark Montgomery's team, joining Marshawn Wilson (10.5 ppg) and Aaric Armstead (10.2 ppg) in double figures.

The win was NIU's second straight in the rivalry, but still left the Rockets with a commanding 43-26 lead in the series. The teams swapped pulling off road wins in the two matchups last year, the battle in Dekalb going comfortably past a 130 point total.

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Huskies Riding 14-Game Home Winning Streak
Nathan Boothe had a season-high 30 points for Toledo (12-6 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) in last week's loss to Northern Illinois. The 6'-9" senior followed that up with 25 and 23 points, respectively in wins over Akron and Bowling green, giving the Illinois native four consecutive games scoring in the 20s and a team-best 19.8 scoring average.

The two wins since the setback to the Huskies were big since the Zips and Falcons are both in contention for the East Division title. Plus, Tuesday's triumph came at Bowling Green leaving the Rockets 2-1 both straight up and against the spread in conference road tilts. All three of their MAC roadies went 'over' the totals as well.

Northern Illinois (15-3 SU, 9-4 ATS) dropped its game at Western Michigan following the upset at Toledo, but bounced back with a 75-70 victory this past Tuesday at home vs. Central Michigan. Trailing by as many as 14 in the first half against CMU, the Huskies rallied behind a game-high 19 from Baker and excellent rebounding from the bench.

Tuesday's triumph left NIU a perfect 3-0 at home in conference play, covering all three of those affairs, and extended the Huskies' win streak in Dekalb to 14 games going back to last February (8-1 ATS). They'll be traveling to Akron and Miami (OH) next week.

How much will home court advantage mean to the Huskies? I think enough to make them my free college basketball pick.

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