Huskies face their bigest challanges over break

By Andrew Singer

DeKALB | Much more will be known about the 2-4 NIU men’s basketball team following a tough nine-game winter break schedule.

Finishing up their non-conference schedule over break, the Huskies will also be three games deep into the MAC portion of their schedule by the time classes resume Jan. 18.

Starting on Dec. 12, NIU will take on Illinois-Chicago (4-4, 0-1 Horizon) at the Convocation Center. The Flames are 2-1 against the MAC this season, beating Toledo twice and losing to Central Michigan 62-52 at home.

NIU will then embark on its longest road trip of the season, making stops at Temple, Southern Illinois, and Missouri.

In Philadelphia on Dec. 18, the Huskies will take on a Temple (4-2) squad that came into the season nationally ranked until losses against California and Texas A&M dropped them from the polls.

Following their matchup with the Owls, the Huskies will travel back to the Land of Lincoln, where the Southern Illinois Salukis will be waiting for them in Carbondale. SIU is 4-4 following a 75-61 win over Chicago State on Saturday.

Two days after Christmas, the Huskies will travel to Columbia, Mo. to take on the No. 9 team in the nation according to the latest AP poll. The Missouri Tigers (6-1) are led by junior guard Marcus Denmon, who’s currently averaging 16.4 points a game.

Returning home, NIU will tangle with the Utah Valley Wolverines (4-3) in a New Year’s Eve showdown.

In the team’s last non-conference game for the foreseeable future, NIU will be paying a visit to former Huskie Jake Anderson and the Iowa State Cyclones on Jan. 3. Anderson is averaging 12.7 points and 8.4 rebounds a game, and has fully established himself on a 6-2 Cyclones team.

In their conference opener, the Huskies will face a tough test against Ball State (3-3) and preseason All-MAC forward Jarrod Jones. The Cardinals dropped to .500 after losing the fourth-place game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout to host Alaska-Anchorage.

Eastern Michigan represents the Huskies’ first road MAC game of the season. Senior forward Brandon Bowdry is currently averaging 20.3 points a game for the Eagles.

NIU will wrap up its winter-break schedule on the road against a winless Toledo Rockets team on Jan. 15. The Rockets (0-8) have lost by at least 30 points to Illinois, Temple, and Cincinnati.