NCAA Tournament Primer: Western Michigan Broncos
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Conference: Mid-American Conference
Coach: Steve Hawkins
Record: 23-9 (14-4 MAC)
Rankings and Ratings:
- Kenpom: 112
- RPI: 82
- AP/USA Today: Not ranked
Seeding?: As of Dave Ommen’s bracket update on Saturday morning, Toledo, who Western Michigan beat in the MAC title game, was a No. 12 seed. Western Michigan, whose RPI is 50 spots lower, will likely be closer to a No. 13 or 14 seed.
Names you need to know: David Brown (19.0 ppg), Shayne Whittington (16.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Connar Tava (12.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Stats you need to know: There are three things that mid-majors need to be able to do if they want to pull off an upset in the NCAA tournament: hit a lot of threes, protect the ball offensively and get to the foul line. WMU’s free throw rate is 52.0, which is top 15 nationally. But they turn the ball over on 20.9% of their possessions (which is really bad) and shoot just 33.0% from three.
Tendencies: The Broncos aren’t deep, relying on their five starters for the most part, and their offense largely runs through star guard David Brown, who was the leading scorer in a strong MAC this season.
Big wins, bad losses: The Broncos actually have a pretty strong profile. They have a pair of top 50 wins (both Toledo) and an 8-4 record against top 100 opponents.
How’d they get here?: The Broncos earned a share of the MAC regular season title before knocking off Toledo in the MAC tournament title game.
Outlook: The Broncos ended the season as hot as anyone in the mid-major ranks. They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games with the only loss being in overtime to Toledo, who they beat twice this season, on the road. They won’t be a trendy upset pick, but this is a team that you’ll want to take a long look at when the brackets are released.
How do I know you?: You probably don’t. This is the first time in a decade that WMU has reached the NCAA tournament. That was Hawkins’ first season in Kalamazoo.