Illinois (12-8, 4-3) at Penn State (8-11, 0-7)
When: 5:30 p.m. at Jordan Center
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TV: BTN; Radio: WIND 560-AM
Skinny: Four of the last five meetings between these teams ended in a 1-point verdict. That includes Illinois' 54-53 home win on Jan. 12 when Penn State stud Talor Battle missed 4 shots in the final minute. Battle leads the Nittany Lions in scoring (19.1 ppg), rebounding (5.6 rpg), assists (3.7 apg), steals (1.1 spg) and 3-pointers (43). He shot just 4 of 19 at Illinois, but shooter Chris Babb and lefty freshman Bill Edwards hurt the Illini. Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale scored all but 3 of Illinois' points during the last 31 minutes of the first meeting. Might Mike Davis or freshmen D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul join the party this time?
Ohio (10-9, 1-4) at Northern Illinois (8-9, 4-1)
When: 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Skinny: Now we start to find out whether the MAC East will own the MAC West again this year. Last season, the East won 29 of the 36 crossover games. The Bobcats feature a balanced scoring attack led by former Indiana point guard Armon Bassett (13.5 ppg, 3.0 apg). Freshman D.J. Cooper, who teamed with NIU freshman Tony Nixon to lead Seton Academy to the Class 2A state title last March, produces 12.9 points, 5.7 assists and 3.1 steals. He ranks third nationally in steals. NIU junior Xavier Silas, meanwhile, leads the MAC in scoring for all games (19.8 ppg) and league games (22.0). Center Sean Kowal has hit 73 percent of his shots in MAC action.