Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bronco Preview

Next up...the WMU Broncos.

It has been a tale of 3 seasons for WMU.  They started off 6-1, then went 2-6 in the tough part of their schedule (including opening the MAC @Akron and OU) and then ripped off 7 in a row before losing @Ball State Saturday.

They are 15-8 and 7-3 in the MAC, with an RPI of 101 and a kenpom.com of 122.

They won @South Florida (which BG did not) and beat Oakland.  They lost to some good teams...@Michigan, @Illinois State, @NC State, @Akron and at home to OU.  Really, their worst losses are @Cornell, @Duquesne and @Ball State, and those were all road games.  They won @CMU (by 17), which BG did not and they beat Toledo and won @Miami.

In today's division agnostic MAC, they are tied for 3rd with UT, who is not eligible for the post-season.  They have to figure they have a very good shot at a quarter final bye.

Last year was a down year for the Broncos, as they went 14-20.  It was only their third losing season in the last 13 years.  They have already surpassed last year's win total.  BG clubbed them by 24 last year in K-zoo, but it was only the Falcon's second win against them in the last 15 games.

The Broncos are always big and physical and this year's team is no exception.  They are led this year by a true late bloomer, Shayne Whittington, a 6'10" JR who had never played more than 14 minutes a game and had averaged a 4/4 single-single last year.  This year, he leads the team in scoring (12.6 ppg in 27 minutes) and rebounding (8.4 per game, which is 2nd in the MAC).  He is 9th in offensive rating...he has turned into a really good player really fast.

Nate Hutcheson (6'7" SR) is scoring 11.2 PPG and about 5 rpg).  He's been a solid player for some time, but they are also getting 11 points a game (in 21 minutes) from a guy named David Brown who returned for the MAC season after an ACL tear last season and 11 points and 6 rebounds from 6'8" FR Darius Paul.  

Paul is the clubhouse leader for FR of the Year in the MAC.  His brother plays for Illinois.

Their PG, Austin Richie, gets 3 assists per game.

This is a very strong, big, physical team and that will be challenge #1 for BG.

Witness the fact that they are #1 in the MAC and #3 in the nation in getting to the free throw line and they are #1 in overall rebounding.   Only 3 D1 teams get a higher percentage of their points from free throws.

Overall, they are #5 in the MAC in offensive efficiency at 1.02 points per possession.  They are only #6 in the MAC in Effective FG% and #5 in turnover %.  So, you have a decent if not great offensive team that is very strong on the boards and gets to the line a lot.  BG has struggled rebounding this year and they're going to need to really bringing that tomorrow night if they want to compete.  BG already is one of the top 40 D1 teams in not fouling, so you'd think that would be good.  If you see a bunch of fouls start to be called on BG, run for the hills.

They are also strong on defense.  They are 4th in the MAC in defensive efficiency at .96 points per game.  (BG is 5th).  They start by being 3rd in the MAC in defending the shot.  Like a lot of very good rebounding team, they don't cause a lot of turnovers (11th in the MAC--all those guys are around the basket) and they are best in the MAC at protecting their defensive boards.  Finally, they are 4th in the MAC in keeping teams off the foul line.  They are +106 in free throws made this season.  Yeesh.

This is a very solid team with 3 MAC road wins this year and a string of success against BG.  As mentioned, BG will need to play very strong on the inside to compete tomorrow.  We need to keep WMU off the line to get WMU down to the kind of offensive total where we have a shot and then BG needs to make some shots in order to get in the range where we have enough points to win.

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