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2014 MAC Tournament: In The End, Western Michigan HAD To Be The MAC Champions

With a 23-9 record, and a share of the MAC Regular Season Title, the Western Michigan Broncos already had a great season before last night's MAC Championship. But in reality, they were the only choice for the MAC Title.

WMU Media File/GS Photo


Merriam-Webster defines it as the following:  "a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency."

If you saw Western Michigan's MAC season up before last night's 98-77 victory over Toledo to clinch their first MAC Championship in 10 years, you could see this was a team of destiny.

Just look at their schedule.

They beat Toledo, then a one-loss team and the pre-season MAC favorites, rather handily to open the slate.  They followed that up with an OT win at Miami, a historical death-trap for Western Michigan teams.  Those two games not only saw the first 2-0 start in MAC play for WMU since the 2009-10 season, they also saw the emergence of Connar Tava.

The next two games were harsh wake-up calls, as the Broncos were completely shut down against Eastern Michigan then completely collapsed down the stretch against lowly Bowling Green, at home no less.  It appeared the Broncos were just a middle-of-the-pack team, with an excruciating schedule coming up with the "Beasts of the East".

But something happened.  Instead of folding, Western Michigan, led by seniors Shayne Whittington and David Brown, rose to the challenge.

In their next game, they took down Kent State at the M.A.C. Center for the first time in over 18 years, and in convincing fashion no less.  Maybe it was a sign of things to come?

Even after a crushing loss on the road to Buffalo, this WMU team refused to quit, losing just once the rest of the way, a complete collapse against Toledo at Savage Arena after controlling the first 37 minutes of the game.  Along the way, they beat Akron for the first time in six years, swept Ohio in a home-and-home (the road win being the first win in Athens in 14 years), swept a difficult NIU team that knocked off both Toledo and Eastern Michigan, and won the Michigan MAC Trophy for the seventh time in the trophy's nine-year existence.

No team, not Toledo or Buffalo, can claim they went 3-0 this year against the perennial MAC Powerhouses of Akron and Ohio.  No other team in the top half of the MAC standings can claim their two home-and-home cross-over opponents either drew byes or hosted First Round games.  Western Michigan can.

The team with one of the toughest schedules in the MAC finished with the best record, held the No. 1 seed, and then proceeded to beat Akron in Cleveland, something no team outside of the Ohio Bobcats have done in the past six years.  Hell, they beat Akron outside of the MAC Championship game in Cleveland for the first time since Toledo beat the Zips back in 2006!

In the end, Western Michigan conquered the MAC Gauntlet and their own personal demons.  They met every challenge and difficulty, and seemingly fixed it.  People said they couldn't beat the press, and they did.  People said they couldn't beat the zone, and they downed Eastern Michigan and NIU.  They've won close games, low-scoring games, high-scoring games, and come from behind miracles (see CMU and Akron).  They've done it all.

So now the Broncos await the NCAA Tournament draw.  Whoever they play will be in for a battle.  This Western Michigan team has shown they can play against any style and win, and with Whittington and Brown leading the Broncos, anything could happen.