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November 20, 2013
Game preview and staff predictions: North Dakota State
The Western Michigan Broncos (3-1) host the North Dakota State Bison (1-2) at University Arena at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday evening.
This will be the fourth all-time meeting between the Broncos and the Bison, with WMU holding the 2-1 edge all-time. WMU is 2-0 against NDSU in Kalamazoo, including a 72-71 overtime win in the first round of the 2013 College Basketball Invitational.
The Broncos currently own a 14-game home non-conference win streak, dating back to the 2010-2011 season. Western Michigan leads the MAC with an average of 7.8 three-pointers made per game, and rank third with a .360 team shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Earlier this week: Two established mid-majors square off again at University Arena
I didn't think Western Michigan had much of a shot knocking off New Mexico St. in Hawaii last week, and even more so without Shayne Whittington. However the Broncos showed some major resilience, beating a mid-major team that has lofty preseason expectations. North Dakota St. fits the same bill.
NDSU was a very good win for this team last year, and it will arguably be an even better win for the Broncos this year if they can pull it off again at home. The Bison return basically every impact player on their roster, including four players who averaged double-digits last season. This is a tall, bulky, long, and athletic group of players who will come in hungry for a win tomorrow against the Broncos, and WMU will need to bring their "A+" game in defense and rebounding in order to win.
I see Western Michigan winning two match-ups on the floor in David Brown and Shayne Whittington, however I believe they are severely outmatched in most other areas -- most notably defending Taylor Braun and TrayVonn Wright at the small forward and power forward positions. If the Broncos are able to contain this duo and win this matchup, I'll officially stop doubting them in these types of situations.
Score Prediction: North Dakota State 75, Western Michigan 70
North Dakota State returns much of the team that came to University arena in the CBI last year, including jack-of-all-trades swingman Taylor Braun who is averaging 13.7 points and 7 assists through three games this year.
It's not that easy to get a read on the Bison from the early returns. They're 0-2 against Division I competition, but losses on the road to St. Mary's and even home to Southern Miss aren't anything to be too ashamed of. Braun also creates a matchup problem as Nate Hutcheson held him to just 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting last spring, but now the Broncos must find a different stopper.
Still, if Western Michigan can improve on their free throw shooting from the last time out and get a big game from Shayne Whittington, their own matchup problem, they should be able to pull this out at home.
Score Prediction: Western Michigan 67, North Dakota State 63
North Dakota State will be another early test for the Broncos as they look to improve their non-conference record with this home matchup on Wednesday.
NDSU returns a lot of talent from last season. Taylor Braun is certain to impress in this one, as he could create problems for WMU's defense. Without Nate Hutcheson to defend Braun, it will be interesting to see who Coach Steve Hawkins asks to man up with him. That matchup could be the key to the game.
With the lack of a lock down on-ball defender, WMU could struggle to stop NDSU's best player, but I think they will be able to do enough in other areas to pull out the victory
Score Prediction: Western Michigan 72, North Dakota State, 67
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