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Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Indiana State Sycamores - 2/1/14

Indiana State Sycamores (16-5) at Northern Iowa Panthers (11-10)

College Basketball: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm (McLeod Center)

The Line: Northern Iowa Panthers -5 -- Over/Under: TBA See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN3

Northern Iowa came back strong with a nice home win against Evansville on Wednesday to take sole possession of 3rd place in the Valley. It was their 11th straight home conference win. The home crowd was treated to a barrage of made three pointers (17 out of 33 attempts). At times, Northern Iowa can hit the long bombs with the best of them, but when they don’t they have limited success in games. They lead the Valley with 10.6 made three-pointers. On the interior, they rely on junior forward Seth Tuttle both offensively and defensively. He leads the team in points per game (14.6) and also in rebounds (7.9 per game). Right behind Tuttle in scoring are junior mates Deon Mitchell (13 ppg) and Nate Buss (10.8 ppg). 2 others average 9+ points per game to round out a well-balanced offensive attack that registers nearly 78 points per game. This team really has been predictable at home where they are accustomed to winning and predictable on the road (only 1 road win all season).

Indiana State suffered their worst defeat of the season with a 19-point loss at last-place Southern Illinois on Wednesday. The Sycamores couldn’t get anything going offensively, especially in the first half with only 16 points. They went on to give up 54 second-half points and just got embarrassed. For a team that makes nearly 50% of their field goals, they were well below that mark with just 40% made shots and were very poor from the charity stripe (11-22). It was a game to forget for Indiana State who has played very well all year. Prior to the loss one would even put them in discussion of an At-large consideration. They now will focus on closing out the 2nd half of the league season strong to hold onto their 2nd place seeding and with a slim, outside chance of catching the league leading Wichita State Shockers who are running the table in the conference. The Sycamores are led by senior Jake Odum with 12.1 ppg and got his 100th assist on Wednesday, while he is great at not turning the ball over (40 turnovers). There are 4 others who average 10+ points per game, which include Manny Arop (11.5 ppg), Dawon Cummings (10.9 ppg), Justin Gant (10.8 ppg), and Khristian Smith (10.6 ppg). Even after their poor shooting performance against SIU, they are shooting 47.1% and 38% from 3-point land.

Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Indiana State Sycamores - 2/1/14

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

This will be the first meeting between these squads this season, but the personnel between the teams hasn’t changed considerable in the past few years. I expect Indiana State to put up a fight as they are itching to get back on the court after their last game. I believe UNI will pull this one out, but it should be close. I am taking the Sycamores with the points, and the spread is just about what I figured it would be.

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Indiana State Sycamores +5

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