Eastern Michigan (13-16) at Western Michigan (12-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 29th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 9-3, Western Michigan 10-2. Away Record: Eastern Michigan 4-12, Western Michigan 2-11. Neutral Record: Eastern Michigan 0-1, Western Michigan 0-4. Conference Record: Eastern Michigan 8-6, Western Michigan 6-8. Series Record: Western Michigan leads 54-42.
GAMES NOTES: The Eastern Michigan Eagles will travel to University Arena to take on the Western Michigan Broncos in a Mid-American Conference bout with a chance to lock up top spot in the conference's West Division.
Eastern Michigan has somehow managed to stay atop the West Division standings this season with a mark of 8-6 in conference play. Overall, Eastern Michigan has gone 13-16 on the year and is coming into this matchup with wins in consecutive games for the first time since mid-January. Up next for the Eagles is the regular season finale against Toledo on Saturday.
The Eagles won the first meeting between these teams this season in a 62-59 overtime thriller on January 18th. The win allowed Eastern Michigan to cut into Western Michigan's all-time series lead which now stands at 54-42. The Broncos have won seven of the last nine meetings and has not lost to Eastern Michigan at home since 2000.
Western Michigan has been losing more often than winning this season with a 12-17 record overall this year as well as a 6-8 mark in conference play which is tied for second in the East Division. The Broncos have been trading wins and losses in their last four games with the most recent decision an 83-74 defeat to Toledo on Saturday. On Friday the Broncos will play on the road against another in-state foe, Central Michigan, to wrap up the regular season.
Eastern Michigan had another stellar defensive effort and even a bit of an offensive eruption in the squads 61-50 win over Ball State in its last time out. The Eagles shot just 36.2 percent from the floor in the game but held a 20-4 advantage from the free throw line en route to the win. It was the first game in the last four matchups the Eagles had more than 60 points.
The Eagles' moderate success this season has come despite the team's lack of offense, at only 53.3 points per game, the worst mark in the MAC and better than only three other teams nationally. Keeping the team in games has been a defense which is allowing the 13th fewest points per game (58.4) in the nation. Senior guard Darrell Lampley (13.3 ppg, 3.1 apg) has carried the bulk of the offensive responsibilities this season as the only Eagle in double figures on the year. Lampley was yet again at the top of the scorers list for Eastern Michigan against Ball State by scoring 13 points while also getting his teammates involved by handing out eight assists. If the team had to pick a second option it would probably be Antonio Green (7.1 ppg), who had 10 points against Ball State.
Western Michigan had four players in double figures and shot a solid 49.2 percent from the floor but couldn't overcome deficits from three-point range (27-15) and the free-throw line (14-9) in the loss to Toledo on Saturday.
A bright spot in the loss was the play of Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook (12.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is tied for the team lead in scoring and is alone at the top in rebounding this season but failed to get into double figures in four of six games after he was absent in a 56-51 loss to Ohio. He has since been in double figures in three straight games including a 14-point performance on Saturday. Demetrius Ward (12.0 ppg) took up the team's scoring with Stainbrook limited while Flenard Whitfield (11.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) filled the hole in the middle and Mike Douglas (11.1 ppg, 4.8 apg) added some improved scoring to his already impressive passing ability. As a team, Western Michigan is scoring at a decent rate (68.9 ppg) but has not had as much defensive success in allowing 70.8 points per game.
Although it has not been a tough team to beat overall this season, Western Michigan has held up well at University Arena with 10 wins in 12 tries. With Stainbrook back to form and the rest of the team proving they can carry the offensive load if need be, Eastern Michigan's defense will be hard pressed to hold the Broncos down in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 64, Eastern Michigan 56
02/29 10:42:05 ET