This will be the first ever meeting between the Western Michigan Broncos (5-4) and the Drake Bulldogs (6-3). The game wraps a three-game stretch of games away from home for the Broncos, who return to Kalamazoo for a game against Prairie View A&M on Saturday.
The Broncos are 66-83 all-time against teams currently in the Missouri Valley Conference, though 96 of those 149 games came against Loyola-Chicago, who joined the league this season; WMU is 25-28 against all other schools in the league. Western Michigan is 8-11 against schools from the Missouri Valley Conference under head coach Steve Hawkins.
Shayne Whittington ranks first in the MAC and 10th in the nation with an average of 10.9 rebounds per game. Whittington recorded his MAC-leading fifth double-double of the season against Missouri, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
David Brown ranks first in the MAC and 39th in the nation with an average of 19.9 points per game. Brown scored a game-high 18 points in the game against Missouri, also adding three steals, two rebounds, and two assists.
Taylor Perry made his first career start for WMU in the game against Missouri, grabbing a career- and game-high 11 rebounds against the Tigers. Charles Harris III played a season-high 11 minutes in the game against Missouri, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds in the process.
Tucker Haymond will not play due to injury for the second consecutive game. He is questionable for Saturday's home game against Prairie View A&M.
As David James points out below in his prediction, this will be a fun backcourt battle to watch between two of the nation's best mid-major guards in the Midwest in David Brown and Detroit, MI native Richard Carter. Look for Boston College transfer Jordan Daniels -- who just recently became eligible -- to make a splash as well. Daniels made an immediate impact in his first game as a Bulldog, recording 18 points (6-10 FG), 4 assists, and 4 steals in 37 minutes of action against New Mexico State this past Saturday.
The Bulldogs have some pieces inside to counter Shayne Whittington in the post, so it will likely be up to the Broncos' defense once again by getting stops and not allowing second-chance points. Any road game against a strong Missouri Valley Conference team is never easy, and this would be a rather impressive win for WMU to add to their non-conference resume. In the end, I think the Bulldogs' offense will be too great to overcome. I'm thinking the Broncos will be glad to be back home for the holidays after this three game road swing in the Central Time Zone.
Score Prediction: Drake 73, Western Michigan 62
Drake is difficult to pin down this year, having looked good in most of their games but with a couple of head-scratchers. Last time out, the Bulldogs dropped an overtime decision at home to New Mexico State, a solid club but one that WMU handled on a neutral court to open the season.
Richard Carter and David Brown will be an interesting backcourt battle to watch, as both guards lead their respective teams with right around 20 point scoring averages. With Drake reeling just a bit (although their quality of competition in the last two games is high), and WMU coming in looking to build on a good performance at Missouri, the Broncos have a good shot at what may be looked at as a minor upset. Personally, I think some of the shooting woes from the last two games will balance out tonight and WMU gets the job done in a tight one.
Score Prediction: Western Michigan 70, Drake 64
Drake has had a good start to its season thus far, but coming off an overtime loss, I think that the Broncos may have a chance to surprise the Bulldogs. After a 6-1 start Drake has lost two straight and I believe they will right the ship at home to WMU.
Richard Carter is averaging 20 PPG and I do not see anyone being able to shut him down defensively. Though some of the other matchups do look good for the Broncos, I see that one being the one the decides this game in the end. I think the Broncos will hang in there, but not be able to pull out the victory on the road
Score Prediction: Drake 66, Western Michigan 63