If so, it will require 2 pretty large upsets.
Here today’s first word.
[IPFW (6-3) at UT Martin (3-9), 1:00 p.m. CST] Live Coverage on Twitter @OVCBall.
The ailing Skyhawks will wrap up their non-conference play hosting a IPFW team on a 4-game win streak heading into Martin, Tennessee.
The Mastodons will likely look to play an up tempo game, looking for 21 ppg scorer Frank Gaines in transition, and allowing 6’9″ senior forward Trey McCorkle to crash the glass for easy putbacks. Outside of those two, the Mastodons don’t have a lot of scoring threats, but one could make the arguments that the Skyhawks only have one, freshman guard Myles Taylor, although Mike Liabo, does lead the team in scoring from the bench despite just 35% FG shooting.
Martin continues to rank near the bottom of the NCAA in both offensive and defensive efficiency, as well in turnovers and defense. They’ll need to overcome as least one of those if they wish to win today.
[Eastern Illinois (6-3) at Northwestern (9-1), 5:00 p.m. CST] Eastern Illinois has a great record for non-conference play, but are likely facing their stiffest competition today when they travel to face Big 10 Northwestern.
The Panthers will have to find a way to stop two 15+ ppg scorers in Josh Shurna and Drew Crawford, but are actually shooting better from the field than Wildcats on the season.
Northwestern is 9-1, but hasn’t played a particularly hard schedule either. That one loss was a 28 point loss to now No. 6 Baylor, a game in which they only put up 41 points.
The Wildcats are 3rd in the nation in fewest turnovers per game (4th if you use the tempo-free equivalent) turning the ball over less than 10 times a game. They’re also 16th in the nation in assists, giving the Wildcats the best assist/turnover ratio in NCAA Division I. The Panthers have had a problem forcing turnovers, and will have to get into the passing lanes to stop the Wildcats offense.