Western Michigan (17-9) at Toledo (13-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 27, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Arena (7,300) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: BCSN. Home Record: WMU 10-1, Toledo 7-2. Away Record: WMU 5-8, Toledo 5-9. Neutral Record: WMU 2-0, Toledo 1-0. Conference Record: WMU 8-4, Toledo 8-4. Series Record: Toledo leads, 78-56.
GAME NOTES: First place in the Mid-American Conference's West Division will be on the line as the Western Michigan Broncos visit the Toledo Rockets to square off at Savage Arena.
The Broncos coasted to a 79-56 rout of Toledo on Jan. 16 in Kalamazoo in the inaugural bout of the 2012-13 campaign between these divisional rivals on Jan. 16. Shayne Whittington registered a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds while Darius Paul and David Brown tallied 15 points each in the contest. Julius Brown netted 16 points for the Rockets, who shot just 37 percent from the floor in the contest.
Both enter with 8-4 records in MAC play, which has them tied for first in the West Division with three games left after Wednesday.
The Broncos earned their second win in a row after a two-game slide on Saturday with a 67-62 win over Pacific in a game that served as part of the annual BracketBuster event. WMU has now won nine of its last 11 games. Both the recent losses occurred on the road, dropping the team to 5-8 in true road tests. Coach Steve Hawkins has seen solid play on both ends of the floor by his Broncos, who are fifth in the conference in scoring (67.0) and third in scoring defense (63.0).
In the win over Pacific, Whittington finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Paul scored 13 points and Brown and Brandon Pokley scored 11 apiece for the Broncos in the final non-conference game of the regular season for the squad. The Broncos led for the final 10 minutes after Brown's layup made it 49-47. That began a 7-0 run that gave Western Michigan its biggest lead at 54-47, but the Broncos couldn't put away from the Tigers until Whittington and Brown made free throws in the closing minute. WMU hit on 48 percent of its field goal tries and limited Pacific to 36.7 percent shooting from the floor to pick up the win. Whittington paces the team in both scoring (12.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg), while Nate Hutcheson chips in 11.1 points per tilt.
Tod Kowalczyk's Rockets have been on fire since a poor 6-10 start put them in a hole by the midway point of the season. Toledo collected its seventh victory in eight games on Saturday as it downed McNeese State, 79-66, in the BracketBuster event. Toledo is 7-2 at home in 2012-13 and will remain at Savage Arena for the remainder of its regular season. Rian Pearson is leading the team and the conference in scoring with 18.3 ppg, while also placing seventh in the league with 7.1 rebounds per outing. Brown adds 13.2 ppg and 5.8 apg to the mix.
While cruising past the Cowboys, Pearson registered his third double-double in his last four games with 21 points and 11 rebounds to propel the Rockets to the 13-point decision. Matt Smith and Reese Holiday added 13 points each while Dominique Buckley and Brown chipped in 10 each. Brown also tied his career- high with 11 assists to record his third career double-double. Toledo connected on 49.1 percent of its field-goal tries including 8-of-18 from beyond the arc, while holding McNeese State to 42.9 percent efficiency. The Rockets are scoring and allowing 68.6 ppg.
The Rockets underachieved in the early part of the season and have a golden opportunity to not only display how far they have come, but also to put themselves in the West Division's driver seat. WMU had no trouble with Toledo in round one, but things will change as the competition moves to Savage Arena.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 72, Western Michigan 68
02/27 10:34:04 ET