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NCAA Tournament Primer: Western Michigan Broncos

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Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

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.

No. 25 Texas A&M outlasts No. 10 Gonzaga

Billy Kennedy
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No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.

Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.

Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.

On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.

Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Thanksgiving Day Edition!

Kevin Ollie
(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.

For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.

The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.


1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.

2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.

3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.

4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.

5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?


  • No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
  • No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.