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December 8, 2012

Game Preview & Predictions: Illinois State

Game Information

Western Michigan Broncos at Illinois State Redbirds
Location: Normal, Illinois
Venue: Redbird Arena
Capacity: 10,200
Saturday, December 8 at 8:00 p.m. (ET)
WMU leads the all-time series: 5-2

Broadcast Information
Radio: Bronco Radio Network
Coverage: Begins at 7:30 p.m.
Announcers: Sean Fagan
Stream: ESPN3

Stations: WKZO - 96.5 FM: (Flagship) Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan; WMAX - 96.1 FM: Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon; WVIC - 94.1 FM: Lansing, Jackson, Battle Creek.

Dan Muller's record at Illinois State: 5-3 (1st season)
Steve Hawkins record at Western Michigan: 165-134 (10th season)

Additional Information

- This game is a return game for the 2011 Bracketbuster game played at University Arena; the Broncos won that contest 68-65.

- The Broncos received 22 votes in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

- Western Michigan's 6-2 start is the best since the 2004-05 season. The Broncos' 6-2 record is tied with Ohio for the best overall record in the conference.

- The Broncos rank second in the MAC and 36th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 59.5 points/game.

- Darius Paul has scored in double-digits in seven consecutive games, the first Bronco freshman to do so since Ben Reed scored in double-digits in 13 consecutive games during the 2001-02 season.

- Shayne Whittington is the reigning College Sports Madness MAC Player of the Week, as well as the conference's MAC West Player of the Week, for his performances against High Point and Oakland.

- This will be a homecoming of sorts for Bronco sophomore guard Hayden Hoerdemann, as he played prep ball in the Normal-Bloomington metropolitan area.

Staff Predictions

Brian Persky: This has all the makings to be a great mid-major match-up between two very talented teams. Redbird seniors Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown will be very tough to stop, but this combo actually reminds me a lot of High Point's Allan Chaney and John Brown, which the Broncos proved they could contain.

Illinois State has shown they can hang with some of the best in the country (Ex: Drexel and #5 Louisville). If Western Michigan can continue their solid defensive efforts that we've seen throughout the early stages of the 2012-2013 season and put any sort of doubts into this high-scoring Redbirds offense, the Broncos can win this game. In the end, I think it's just too much to overcome on the road against a slightly better team.

Score Prediction: Illinois State 77, Western Michigan 69

D.J. Duckett: This is a match-up between two evenly matched teams. Both have shown well in the early portion of the season. Illinois State started off very well on its home floor, but has since dropped two straight there, and 3 overall. Though they played Louisville close, I think that they won't be able to bring as much energy to this contest.

Ultimately, I think WMU will do well in the paint, as Shayne Whittington continues to assert himself defensively. Also, the depth that Dan Loney brings to the front court can't be taken lightly. Of course, Darius Paul has been everything Bronco fans could hope for out of a freshman, and I think those 3 will help lead the Broncos to victory.

Score Prediction: Western Michigan 78, Illinois State 74

David James: With all the focus on Michigan over the past few days, it was easy to forget that WMU has an awfully tough test coming up in Normal, Illinois, tonight. ISU has put together a heck of a program, although they haven't shown a great amount of consistency lately. The Redbirds took No. 5 Louisville down to the wire, losing by three on the road last Saturday before turning around and falling 81-67 at home to Wyoming on Tuesday.

I expect ISU to come out with something to prove after the Wyoming debacle. At University Arena, the outcome might be different, but this is a tough, tough game.

Score Prediction: Illinois State 82, Western Michigan 70

Brandon Fitzsimons: WMU didn't look all that bad Tuesday outside of the 13 turnovers in the first half and the forced shots. Illinois State is good, but they aren't as great as Michigan. If the players are motivated and worked hard the rest of this week, this will be all Broncos.

Score Prediction: Western Michigan 74, Illinois State 67. Bonus prediction: WMU doesn't come back with a football coach.

Additional Links

WMU Athletics: Men's Hoops To Face Hot Redbirds Squad

Illinois State Athletics: ISU Hosts Western Michigan Saturday Night

Bleacher Report: Illinois State homepage


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