Created:Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:51 p.m.CST
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Storylines to watch this season

By STEVE NITZ - snitz@shawmedia.com
Kathi Bennett and the NIU women's basketball team play against Iowa in the WNIT. (Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)

The Northern Illinois men’s and women’s basketball teams both open the 2012-13 season tonight. The men play at Nebraska Omaha at 7, while the women tip off the Preseason WNIT at Iowa, with a 5:30 tip-off.

Here are some things to watch during the upcoming season:

TOUGHEST GAMES

Nonconference edition

Men: at Washington, 6 p.m., Dec. 22

Washington won the PAC-12 regular-season title last season, but was left out of the NCAA tournament. Winning out west won’t be easy.

Women: at DePaul, 7 p.m. Dec. 15

The Blue Demons, a perennial NCAA tournament team, enter the season ranked 25th in The Associated Press poll, and 26th in the USA Today coaches poll.

MAC edition

Men: at Ohio, 6 p.m. Jan. 16

Everyone remembers last year’s Bobcats squad, which made the NCAA tournament and advanced all the way to the Sweet 16, nearly beating North Carolina. Ohio was picked to win the MAC tournament in the league’s preseason media poll, and returns D.J. Cooper, who is arguably the top player of the league and was named to the preseason watch list for the Wooden Award.

Women: Toledo, 3 p.m. Jan. 26

The Rockets return four starters from a team that finished 24-10 last season. Toledo had three players – Naama Shafir, Andola Dortch and Yolanda Richardson – selected to the preseason All-MAC team.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Men: Abdel Nader, sophomore, forward

Nader was a bright spot on last year’s team, averaging 10.4 points a game. He also averaged 4.2 rebounds. He is a preseason All-MAC selection.

Women: Amanda Corral, sophomore, guard

Corral shined as a freshman last season, leading the Huskies in points a game (10.0), minutes (984), rebounds (4.8) and steals (21).

Who wins the Boca Raton Bowl?
NIU
Marshall