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Northern Iowa vs. Evansville,
01/01/2017 16:00 EDT,
Score: 58 - 70
Point Spread: +2/-106 Northern Iowa
The set-up: Northern Iowa is just 5-7 overall (0-1 in MVC play with a 68-64 home loss to Missouri St.) as it opens 2017 with a road game in league play at 9-5 Evansville, which also began its conference play with a loss, 62-50 at Illinois State
Northern Iowa: The Panthers are off 31- and 23-win seasons, last year upsetting Texas in a first round NCAA game. However, three key players are gone from that squad, a perimeter trio consisting of Washpun (14.2-4.1-5.3), Bohannon (11.5 & 4.1) and Jesperson (10.8 & 4.0). So far this season, senior guard Morgan (17.6 & 7.3) has carried the load, with four players averaging between 7.0 and 9.5 PPG. The Panthers just haven't scored much, averaging 64.1 PPG (336th) on 40.1 percent shooting (321st).
Evansville: Purple Aces won 25 games last season but gone are D.J. Balintine (20.5 PPG) and tyhe 6-10 Mockevicius (15.7 & 14.0), both who may just be MVC hall-of-famers. However, Evansville has looked strong in the early going with a solid 9-5 record, although a 62-50 loss at Illinois State in their conference opener snapped a seven game winning streak. Guards Brown (21.2 & 4.4) and Taylor (15.6) lead the way but the team could really use the 6-7 Wiley (8.7 & 4.6), who is sidelined now with a groin injury. Evansville, despite a much better record, doesn't much better than Northern Iowa, at 69.7 PPG.
The pick: Evansville is 8-0 SU at home but I tend to always be a believer in the Northern Iowa Panthers and despite the slow start, I'll stick with them here. Northern Iowa is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 road games and I'll make Northern Iowa a 10* play on Jan. 1.