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December 15, 2013
Game preview and staff predictions: Missouri
This will be the first ever meeting between the Western Michigan Broncos (5-3) and the #24 Missouri Tigers (9-0). The Broncos are 3-1 all-time against teams currently in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), but have not won a game against an SEC school since defeating Auburn on December 17, 2002.
This game marks the second in a row on the road for the Broncos, as well as the front-end of a two-game road swing that will take them to Drake on Wednesday. Missouri is the first ranked opponent the Broncos have faced since taking on #23/25 North Carolina State on December 22, 2012. The Broncos' last win against a ranked opponent came on Nov. 21, 2007 when they beat #25 Davidson at home.
Shayne Whittington recorded his MAC-leading fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. No MAC player has more double-doubles than Shayne Whittington since the start of the 2012-13 season (16).
David Brown has reached double-digits in scoring in every game this year, and leads the MAC with a 20.1 points per game scoring average. The Broncos have the conference's leading scorer (Brown - 20.1 ppg) and rebounder (Whittington - 11.0 rpg).
This Missouri game might be a little tougher than initially expected when the Broncos added the Tigers to their non-conference schedule last year. A road game in a major conference is always challenging for a mid-major, and Missouri will be no exception as they've recently cracked the top 25 with impressive wins against 18th-ranked UCLA and West Virginia.
The Tigers have an explosive groups of guards with juniors Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown being the most lethal, averaging a combined 40 points per game. In order for the Broncos to pull off the major upset, they'll need to weather the initial storm and somehow try to slow the pace of the game down by forcing turnovers and dictating the tempo.
Unfortunately for Western Michigan, I think the Tigers are just a much more athletic bunch and will likely blow off the lid of the gym in this one. Similar to the N.C. State game last season, it's not a great matchup for a team like WMU who is built for a physical, grind-it-out style of play.
Score Prediction: Missouri 84, Western Michigan 63
Western Michigan gets a bit of an unexpected opportunity today, taking on a Missouri team that is just making its first appearance in the top 25 following a 9-0 start and identical 80-71 wins over the aforementioned UCLA and West Virginia.
The Tigers' schedule up to that point had not been anything to write home about, but did include a few wins over mid-majors that were at least comparable to WMU. As a guard-driven team that shoots from the outside quite effectively, I'm not seeing a very favorable matchup for the Broncos. WMU's best hope may be that the Tigers are looking past this game towards their rivalry tilt with Illinois next Saturday, but don't count on it. With a full week between the two games, it just wouldn't seem to be in the cards for the Broncos.
Score Prediction: Missouri 79, Western Michigan 56
Western Michigan will definitely have its hands full this weekend playing its toughest opponent to date in Missouri. Off to a 9-0 start and moving in the top 25, Missouri plans to keep things rolling against another mid-major foe.
The matchups certainly do not favor WMU. They have had difficulty guarding the three point line at times this season and the Tigers bring a guard heavy lineup that can shoot the lights out when hot. I see Western Michigan struggling to hold its own in this game, Missouri is more than the Broncos will be able to handle.
Score Prediction: Missouri 77, Western Michigan 61
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