#2 Ohio vs. #3 Western Michigan
The third-seeded Western Michigan Broncos (20-11) will have their work cut out for them tonight as they face the two-seed Ohio Bobcats (23-8) in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament tonight at 9:00 p.m.
The Broncos lost a close one at home 61-59 to the Bobcats on January 12. In that game, freshman point guard Jared Klein led all scorers with 18 points, while Shayne Whittington recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. The WMU defense was able to hold MAC Player of the Year D.J. Cooper to just one assist in the first half, however finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Both teams are coming into tonight's contest playing very well. The Broncos have won 12 out of their last 16 games, while the Bobcats are winners of 15 of their last 18.
"Oh boy," Hawkins said when asked about the last time these two teams met. "That game was so long ago. It was the second game of conference play. I remember -- if I'm not mistaken -- neither one of us shot the ball well against the other, and I think it had more to do with both teams playing really good defense."
"I remember being fairly pleased with our defense in that game because they're so good offensively. We lost by two. I remember thinking, 'gosh almighty, if we had any better offense, we had a shot at this thing.' But I think they've got outstanding players, they've got great experience, they've got a tremendous coach, they've been here, and they won it all last year. And those are all things that are working in their favor."
"We will do (with this group) what we've done all year long. We'll do our best. We'll go back to work tonight -- well, I will -- and in the morning we'll start getting ourselves ready for the game and show up tomorrow night. I'm sure our guys will play hard and we'll see how it goes."
Brian Persky:I'm looking for Austin Richie and Jared Klein to step up in a big way defensively on Ohio's guards. It's no secret that D.J. Cooper is the key to the Ohio scouting report. And Cooper will look to push the pace early and often.
The Broncos will likely have to play their best game of the year both offensively and defensively to advance past the reigning MAC Tournament Champion Ohio Bobcats. WMU should be playing they have nothing to lose. If they do, it's possible we see a stunner at Quicken Loans Arena. As well as the Broncos played last night against EMU, I can't get myself to pick against Ohio in this kind of a scenario.
Score Prediction: Ohio 77, Western Michigan 65
D.J. Duckett: I think that WMU's MAC season will come to an end tonight in Cleveland. I see D.J. Cooper being too much to handle for the young WMU guards. If Darius Paul can get his touches in the paint, and all the Bronco shooters are hot, I could see WMU moving forward, but things as they stand now, I like the Bobcats.
Score Prediction: Ohio 78, Western Michigan 72
Brandon Fitzsimons: When these two teams last met, the Broncos played a hard game but came up short when David Brown missed a game-winning lay-up at University Arena. Now these two teams are facing off in the semi-finals of the MAC Championship.
D.J. Cooper and Co. did just enough to win last time, thanks in part to a poor shooting day down low by the Broncos. I think both sides will shoot much better this time around, as Cooper, Walter Offutt, and Nick Kellogg power the Bobcats in March, which in recent years has been their month.
Score Prediction: Ohio 69, Western Michigan 61