Akron’s Loren Cristian Jackson is defended by West Virginia’s Chase Harler during an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)
- Akron is a 16.5-point home favorite over Northern Illinois on Tuesday in Mid-American Conference play
- Akron is in second place in the MAC, a half-game behind Toledo
- The odds, lines and spread for Northern Illinois-Akron along with analysis can be found below
Akron will try to move into a first-place tie in the Mid-American Conference when it hosts Northern Illinois at 2pm ET Tuesday at the James A. Rhodes Arena.
Akron is 12-4 overall and 10-3 in the MAC, where it trails Toledo (11-3) by a half game. The Zips have won two games in a row and eight of their last nine. They have also won eight of their last nine against the spread and are prohibitive favorites Tuesday.
Northern Illinois vs Akron Odds
|Northern Illinois||+1000||+16.5 (-110)||Over 132 (-110)|
|Akron||-3300||-16.5 (-118)||Under 132 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 15 from FoxBet
Northern Illinois (2-11, 1-7) is in last place in the conference. The Huskies have lost back-to-back games and six of their last seven while also dropping four of the past five ATS.
Jackson Leads Akron
Akron senior guard Loren Cristian Jackson was the MAC Player of the Year last season and is making a strong case to repeat.
Found out recently about Loren Cristian Jackson, the compulsively-watchable 5’8″, 150 lb. highlight machine for @ZipsMBB, and I can’t get enough pic.twitter.com/TNCbinF61I
— Will Warren (@statsbywill) January 22, 2020
The 5-foot-8 Jackson is averaging 21.6 points and 6.4 assists a game. He is also playing 87.6% of Akron’s minutes while accounting for 31.6% of its possessions and 30.9% of its shots.
In an 83-76 win at Miami of Ohio last Friday night as a 4-point favorite, Jackson scored 25 points. It was his eighth game this season of at least 20 points.
Junior guard Bryan Trimble Jr. added 15 points, lifting his season average to 12.5.
Akron’s @Greg2Tribble finds @ZipsMBB 25 Enrique Freeman for the flush…
Akron 59 | BGSU 50 | 3:31 2nd H
Highlights courtesy of ESPN
📺 ESPN+: https://t.co/ExvDxws86T
🎙 Radio: https://t.co/KWo0wpZRJw
📊 Live Stats: https://t.co/YxQsrW7YiZ#GoZips 🦘 #1Akron pic.twitter.com/tqn96ItOTd
— Akron Zips MBB (@ZipsMBB) January 20, 2021
In addition to averaging 8.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots, sophomore forward Enrique Freeman is one of the best stories in the MAC.
Freeman is attending Akron on an academic scholarship. He won a walk-on spot on the team in an open tryout camp in his second year on campus and is now a key contributor in his second season.
Rough Go for NIU
A year after sharing the MAC West title with Ball State – the conference eliminated divisions in this pandemic-affected season — Northern Illinois has fallen on hard times.
Coach Mark Montgomery was fired after a 1-7 start and replaced by associate head coach Lamar Chapman on an interim basis.
Dickie V didn’t like the move.
Mark Montgomery Head Coach Northern Illinois was fired today due to 1-7 start.I dislike firing coaches in the middle of a season in college based on the won -lost record (especially in a pandemic). If one violated contract morally I can understand . https://t.co/iZQFqyBJV0
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 4, 2021
Northern Illinois has not fared much better under Chapman, going 1-4. COVID-19 issues sidelined the Huskies for almost four weeks before they returned to action Saturday and lost at Kent State 80-58 as 15-point underdogs.
Northern Illinois scored a season-low 20 points in the first half as it fell behind by 12 points by the break.
Sophomore guard Tyler Cochran led Northern Illinois with 13 points and eight rebounds. It was his first game since Jan. 2 as he had been sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Cochran leads the team in scoring (13.7) and rebounding (7.5) and is also averaging 1.8 steals a game. He is trying to make up for the loss of Eugene German, who finished his collegiate career last season as the fifth-leading scorer in MAC history.
We would use “Two-way player” but we’ve exhausted that phrase to describe @Hank25Me 🤷♂️#ALLIN pic.twitter.com/uKKprHoJXx
— NIU Men’s Basketball (@GoHuskiesMBB) February 13, 2021
Junior guard Trendon Hankerson also scored 13 points in reaching double figures for a fifth straight game. He is averaging 12.4 points.
Junior guard Darius Beane dished six assists, raining his total to 20 over the last three games.
Akron Seeks Revenge
Akron will be looking for revenge in this one as Northern Illinois notched its lone MAC win this season over the Zips 67-65 on Jan. 12 at home as an 8.5-point underdog. The Zips had won four of the previous five meetings.
Northern Illinois junior wing Justin Lee scored 15 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench and Hankerson also had 15 points. Akron got 15 points, five rebounds and four assists from sophomore swingman Ali Ali.
Northern Illinois outrebounded Akron 41-25. The Huskies also shot 71.4% from the foul line to Akron’s 46.2%.
While it’s a high number, to be sure, it is hard not to expect Akron to win big in a revenge situation against a lesser foe.
Pick: Akron -16.5 (-110)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.