The Demons (14-6) and Purple Eagles (14-9) will be in one of 13 games televised on the ESPN platform as part of the Bracketbusters, with another 48 non-conference matchups not on TV created as a result of the participation of 13 Division I conferences. The teams will tip off at 3:03 EST at Niagara's 2,100-seat "Taps" Gallagher Center, built in 1949.
Northwestern, which brings a four-game winning streak into Thursday night's home game against Oral Roberts, leads the country with an 83.9 scoring average. Niagara ranks 36th at 75.4 points per game.
Sophomore guard Antoine Mason, son of former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason, leads the Purple Eagles with an 18.9 scoring average that is 31st nationally. Another sophomore guard, Juan'ya Green, is averaging 16.7 points along with 5.2 assists, 51st in the country, and 1.9 steals, 76th nationally.
Niagara will return the game and play at Northwestern in 2013-14. Northwestern has been involved in intersectional home-and-home series with Utah State, Tennessee Tech and Campbell in previous Bracketbusters pairings, making ESPNU at Utah State in 2006 in a last-second loss, but pounding the Aggies in Natchitoches to open the 2006-07 season.
tSouthland Conference co-leader Stephen F. Austin was also included in the 13 ESPN broadcasts, playing at Long Beach State in a game that will be televised by ESPNU at 8 p.m. on Feb. 22.
The Demons have 11 top 100 NCAA team stat rankings, including 10th in steals (9.7 per game), 15th in blocks (5.5 pg) and 20th in assists (16.1 pg). Sophomore point guard Jalan West is 12th nationally in steals (2.5 pg), 23rd in assist-turnover ratio (plus 2.63) and 46th in assists (5.3 pg). Junior forward DeQuan Hicks, whose 15.1 scoring average tops NSU, is 22nd in the country with his 57.1 percent shooting aim as the Demons rank 59th as a team in shooting accuracy (45.8 percent).
The other Southland teams and matchups for the weekend event were McNeese at Toledo, Oral Roberts hosting Weber State, Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana at Winthrop, SIU-Edwardsville at Central Arkansas, Cal State Fullerton at A&M-Corpus Christi, Nicholls at former SLC member Texas-San Antonio, and Lamar hosting former league rival Texas State.