2014 NCAA Tournament: Western Michigan Will Face Syracuse In Buffalo On Thursday, March 20th

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, Joe Lunardi was right, it appears. The WMU Broncos earned a #14 seed, on the low end of what most people figured, and have to play Syracuse in their own backyard.

The Western Michigan Broncos, your 2014 Mid-American Conference tournament champions, have learned their initial destination and opponent in the NCAA Tournament.  The Broncos will be a #14 seed in the South Regional, where they will take on the #3 Syracuse Orange in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday, March 20th.

Should the Broncos win, they'll face the winner of the game between #6 Ohio State Buckeyes and #11 Dayton Flyers.

Other teams in WMU's regional include Florida, Kansas and UCLA.

The Broncos finished as the regular season MAC co-champions with the Toledo Rockets.  WMU was 23-9 overall and 14-4 in the MAC.  They earned the league's #1 seed in the conference tournament due to a better record in division play.  In the tournament, they staged an epic comeback to overcome an 18-point second-half deficit and beat Akron 64-60 in overtime.  The following night, they won their first MAC title since 2004 with a strong 98-77 victory over #2 seed Toledo.

In non-conference play, WMU's best win in a 7-5 start was a season-opening 70-64 victory over New Mexico State, who claimed the WAC Tournament championship this week.  They also had close losses to Missouri (66-60) and Summit League tournament champion North Dakota State (83-74).

WMU ranks nationally and at or near the top of the MAC in several statistical categories.  They're 69th (2nd, MAC) in field goal percentage (46.4) and 56th (3rd, MAC) in field goal percentage defense (40.8).  They're also 47th (2nd, MAC) in free throws made.  The Broncos rank 23rd nationally and 2nd in the MAC in 3-point percentage defense (30.5)

Individually, Shayne Whittington and David Brown are the Broncos' stars, and their numbers nationally reflect that.  Whittington is in the top-40 nationally in defensive rebounds per game and double-doubles, and he's 57th in the country with a 52.6 field goal percentage.  David Brown leads the MAC and is 27th and 41st respectively in free throws made (181) and points per game (19.1).

In the MAC title game against Toledo, Brown scored 32 and Whittington added 20.  Those two, along with Tucker Haymond (21) and Connar Tava (13), scored 86 of WMU's 98 points in the championship victory.

This will be Western Michigan's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance.  In their most recent trip, the Broncos lost 71-58 to Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2004 tourney as a #11 seed.  WMU won their first round game as a #11 seed in 1998 against Clemson, 75-72, before dropping their second round game to #3 Stanford 83-65.  Their first NCAA appearance took place in 1976, when they defeated Virginia Tech 77-67 in overtime.  They dropped a 62-57 decision in the second round.

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