January 8, 2008 12:28 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Northern Iowa at Illinois State (Missouri Valley)
Redbird Arena - Normal, IL
8:00 PM EST
Tuesday night is the night that we usually go to your mother's place, and it's also Valley night. In a topsy-turvy MVC where everything formerly down (Illinois State, Indiana State and Drake) is up (all 3-0), Northern Iowa is currently the only one of the old guard that's over .500, having beaten Bradley and Evansville to start the season before being Treed at Terre Haute on Saturday 74-56. It's just about the quietest 10 overall wins we can think of here at TMM Mobile HQ, but that's because they've done it with nationally ranked ball control (11.7 TOPG) and defense (37.3 FGA%). If you're outside the region, Eric Coleman is likely the name you remember from the not too far-off NCAA days. The 6-6 undersized center is a senior now, and he's the team's heartbeat with his team-leading 12.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg.
The Panthers defend the 3 well (30.7 percent), and they're going to need every ounce of that effort tonight. The Redbirds shoot nine percentage points better than that, and have a 6-11 freak named Levi Dyer who steps out often to make an even 50 percent (39-of-78) of his longies. And, of course, there's plenty of O to go around -- O being Osiris Eldridge (15.3 ppg), the sophomore that will likely be at or near the top of the MVC POY voting at least three times for the rest of his career. Despite being 6-3, he loves to be around the basket as much as possible, grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game. He's also hitting 46 percent of his shots from the floor. And even though it's a Tuesday, conditions are perfect for making baskets. It's business time.
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