The Western Michigan Broncos have lost 4 in a row, and the Ohio University Bobcats have dropped 3 of their last 5 since losing Antonio Campbell early in the Eastern Michigan game. The good news for the Broncos is that they have won 4 of their last 5 at home, their sole loss to Akron. Ohio has shown they can score without Campbell, and freshman Jason Carter continues to improve in his expanded role since the injury. Both teams have a lot of questions, and this game will help answer them.
When: 6pm, Tuesday, January 31st.
Where: University Arena, Kalamazoo
Radio: WZOX, 96.5 Kalamazoo or via stream
Line: Ohio -4
Scouting The Bobcats
Ohio comes into the game 13-6 on the year, and 5-3 in MAC play. They are 3-1 on the road in MAC play, their sole loss to the Zips.
Obviously they are a different team since the Campbell injury, and they are adjusting. Carter has been performing admirably since his absence, averaging 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in those 4 games.
The Bobcats lead the MAC in team defense, only giving up 67.5 points per contest. Carter is active, but isn’t the inside presence Campbell was, and it shows on the stat sheet. They are giving up 75.8 points per game since the injury.
There are two guys averaging 12.8 points per game for the Bobcats, Jordan Dartis and Kenny Kaminski. Dartis has been a steady presence since midway through the season. Kaminski is a guy that you watch and say wow. Sometimes it’s a good wow, and sometimes it’s a bad wow. In the last 4 games, he is 3-12, 2-9, 2-6 and 7-11 from the floor.
Scouting the Broncos
The Broncos come into the game 6-14, and 2-6 in the MAC. At home this season, they are 2-1 in the MAC, with their only loss to league leader Akron.
Western Michigan’s offense was a hot mess last year. This year, it has been wildly inconsistent. When they are hitting, they are a good basketball team. When they aren’t, they are borderline terrible.
I think their streaky offense is affecting their defensive play. They currently sit second to last in defense in the MAC, giving up 79.1 per game. Given how poor the CMU defense is, that’s like a bottom dweller type defense most years.
Part of that issue is that they start two freshman. Both are going to be good/great players, but as freshman do, they miss rotating at times and things of that nature.
Another problem is that their play in the middle is mediocre. Seth Dugan is still young in his development and Drake LaMont is coming off an injury and isn’t 100%. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but the MAC is loaded in the middle this year. Even with the loss of Campbell, they are facing guys like Isaiah Johnson, James Thompson IV, and Steve Taylor Jr. game in and game out.
Players To Watch
Jaaron Simmons, Ohio: Since the injury to Campbell, the Bobcats have been led by Simmons. This isn’t really a surprise or completely accurate. Simmons has always directed the action for the Bobcats. Currently Simmons is 4th in the nation in assists. However since the injury, like all the Bobcats, his role has expanded. Since the EMU game, he is averaging over 20 points per game, opposed to his 13.3 on the season.
Jason Carter, Ohio: Carter has been making the most of his additional time. He is an active player that has the potential to be a MAC player of the year down the road.
Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan: Wilder is the heart and soul of the Broncos, and it’s steadiest performer. He isn’t a traditional point guard, he is a scoring option that is the primary ball handler. He does a fine job of getting his teammates involved, so that’s not an issue. I personally would like to see him take the ball to the hoop more and create.
Seth Dugan, Western Michigan: After coming off the bench most of the season, Dugan has been the starter the last few games. It’s been a doubled edged sword for coach Hawkins, as Dugan has been coming on, and it gives Drake LaMont better energy.
Keys to the Contest
For Ohio to win, they need to do what they do this season, which is play great defense. Toledo has gone nuts at home in MAC play, dropping 90 against Toledo, 92 against Kent and 80 in the loss to Akron. I guess need to do is a stretch. Ohio is capable of scoring in bunches, especially if good Kaminski shows up. Personally I hope that’s what happens, and we have an exciting game with both teams in the 80s.
For Western, it’s the same. Play better, more consistent defense, and/or hope for an offensive explosion. They have their own streaky scorer in Tucker Haymond. Really they have three. The freshman duo of Reggie Jones and Brandon Johnson are both capable of scoring in bunches.
I think Ohio will break out to an early lead, before the home crowd rallies the Broncos back. In the end, I believe Ohio will be a bit too much, winning 78-74.