COLUMN: NIU will come up short in MAC tournament


Tim Dodge

Isaiah Adams (23) stands in front of David Coit (11) during the first half as he is approaching the net at the three point line. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Eddie Miller, Sports Reporter

With the start of March, sports fans are eager to watch the historic NCAA college basketball tournament, March Madness. 


NIU men’s basketball has not seen the tournament since 1996. Despite the odds, the Huskies still have a chance. The first 32 teams playing in the NCAA tournament are decided by who wins each conference’s tournament. The remaining teams are hand selected by the NCAA committee based off of resume. 

The only way for the Huskies to make the tournament would be to win the Mid-American Conference tournament. The MAC tournament takes the top eight MAC teams and puts those teams into a bracket. The winner is sent to the NCAA tournament. 

With 21 points apiece from senior guard Kaleb Thornton and sophomore guard Zarique Nutter, the Huskies clinched the MAC tournament with a win over Central Michigan University on Feb. 25. The Huskies can finish as the fifth or the sixth seed. 

A University at Buffalo loss and a win over Eastern Michigan University Friday would seal the sixth seed for the Huskies, causing NIU to face off against the third-seeded team in the quarterfinals of the tournament. To win the tournament, the Huskies would have to finish undefeated.

I believe NIU will secure the win given that the last time the Huskies played Eastern Michigan the Huskies won 88-67. Upon making it to the MAC tournament, the Huskies will possibly face one of the top three MAC teams, the University of Toledo, Kent State University or the University of Akron in the first round. 

With an unfavorable matchup in the first round of the MAC tournament, it will be a long road for the Huskies. I believe the Huskies will lose in the first round of the MAC tournament, not making the NCAA tournament. 


Similar to men’s basketball, the NCAA tournament for women’s basketball is decided by the 32 conference winners and the best remaining team. It is highly unlikely for NIU to be hand selected, but winning the MAC tournament is possible. 

With the help of senior guard Chelby Koker and senior forward A’Jah Davis, the Huskies are 5-2 in their last seven games, beating two of the top three MAC teams in Ball State University and Bowling Green State University. Despite the late-season push, the Huskies’ fate remains uncertain. 

As of right now, NIU is fifth in the MAC with a conference record of 8-9. The Huskies clinched a spot in the MAC tournament on Wednesday with a victory over Eastern Michigan University. Since the Huskies clinched the MAC tournament, NIU will either be the fifth or sixth seed. After the win over Eastern Michigan, if the Huskies defeat Kent State on Saturday, NIU will seal the fifth seed. With a loss and an Akron win, the Huskies will fall to the sixth seed. 

The Huskies faced off against Kent State for the first time on Jan. 25, the result being a 82-61 loss.I believe that the Huskies will lose to Kent State, going into the MAC tournament as the sixth seed. 

The Huskies will likely face Ball State in the first round of the MAC tournament. Given the Huskies’ 84-77 victory over Ball State on Feb. 18, I think the Huskies will secure the win in the first round. NIU’s run will stop there, eliminating the chance of a NCAA tournament appearance.