Western Michigan (19-8) at Toledo (23-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Hall (9,000) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Western Michigan 12-2, Toledo 13-0. Away Record: Western Michigan 5-6, Toledo 8-5. Neutral Record: Western Michigan 2-0, Toledo 2-0. Conference Record: Western Michigan 12-3, Toledo 11-4. Series Record: Toledo leads, 78-58.
GAME NOTES: The Western Michigan Broncos are one of the hottest teams in the Mid-American Conference, and they'll try to keep that distinction as they travel to face the Toledo Rockets in a conference showdown at Savage Hall.
Western Michigan has won eight consecutive games, and 10 of the team's last 11 dating back to Jan. 23. The Broncos are coming off an 88-81 overtime thrilling victory over Ball State on Wednesday, and will now square off against the team that sits one game behind them in the MAC West Division standings.
Toledo had won two games in a row before a Wednesday night loss to Northern Illinois, 74-66, set the Rockets back. Toledo, at 11-4 in the MAC standings, is one game behind Western Michigan.
Toledo holds a pretty firm grip on the all-time series with Western Michigan, 78-58. The Broncos, though, had the edge in the head-to-head matchup earlier this season when they defeated Toledo, 87-76, in Kalamazoo.
Ball State looked like it had things under control against Western Michigan on Wednesday night, leading at the half, 39-30. But the Broncos came roaring back in the second half to tie the score, and then proceeded to outscore the Cardinals in the overtime period, 13-6 for the win. Shayne Whittington led Western Michigan with 28 points and a team-best 14 rebounds for the double- double, while David Brown contributed 25 points and six boards. Connar Tava was the third member of the Broncos to net over 20 points in the game, chipping in 23 with another six rebounds.
Brown is the proven scorer on this Western Michigan team this season, netting a team-high 18.9 ppg with a Broncos high 40 steals on the year. Whittington isn't too far behind Brown's scoring total, though, with 15.6 ppg and a team- high 9 rpg and 31 blocked shots. Tava rounds out the double-digit scorers for Western Michigan this season with 12.3 ppg, and adds a team-high 2.8 apg average to his stat line.
Toledo held a one-point advantage over Northern Illinois on Wednesday night, but the Huskies were able to storm back and grab the lead in the second half thanks to 22-of-27 shooting from the free-throw line. Rian Pearson netted 27 points with nine rebounds to pace the Rockets in the loss, while Julius Brown scored 13 with four assists and J.D. Weatherspoon chipped in 11 points with seven boards. Toledo shot 41.8 percent from the floor in the game, including a dismal 14.3 percent from 3-point range.
Brown leads the team in scoring this season with a 14.9 ppg average, connecting on 42.7 percent shooting through 28 games played. Brown tops the team with 174 assists on the year and shoots a team-high 87.6 percent from the free-throw line. Pearson isn't very far behind Brown's scoring total, netting 15.5 ppg and notching a team-high 47 steals. Justin Drummond adds 13.7 ppg, and Weatherspoon chips in 11.2 ppg with a team-leading 6.8 rpg average. Toledo averages 80.5 ppg as a unit this season through 28 games.
This battle between the top two teams in the MAC West Division promises to be exciting, especially since Toledo is unbeaten at home this season. But Western Michigan is the hotter program coming in with strong scoring, while the Rockets have shown some vulnerability since conference play began.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 78, Toledo 75
03/01 11:33:47 ET