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2017-18 MAC Basketball Preview: Western Michigan Broncos at South Carolina Gamecocks

The crowd should be rocking

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Michigan Broncos head to Columbia, South Carolina to take on a final four team from a year ago. The South Carolina Gamecocks made their first ever appearance in the final four and were nice enough to pick this game for the banner raising ceremony.


Game Details

When: Monday, Nov. 13, 8p.m.

Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbus, South Carolina

Watch: The SEC Network

Listen: WZOX 96.5 FM in Kalamazoo

Line: South Carolina favored by 10.5


Scouting the Gamecocks

The Gamecocks made a magical run in the NCAA tournament last season thanks to Sindarius Thornwell. Luckily for the Broncos, he graduated. However, the Gamecocks haven’t seemed to miss a beat. They knocked off Wofford in their opener, 73-52. Even though they lost all but 6.4% of their three point production last season, they hit 11 of their 23 attempts in the season opener.

South Carolina is a defensive minded team that mauled Wofford on the boards in their opener. They relied heavily on the three but did a better job of working the ball around in the second half.


Scouting the Broncos

The Broncos have a lot of young talent, including sophomores Reggie Jones and Brandon Johnson. The arena should be rocking with the banner raising and that’s where senior Thomas Wilder will come in. A veteran of his ability is key going into a hostile environment against a defensive minded team.

Johnson looked good in their opener and the Broncos overall did a good job working their offense. There were some defensive breakdowns and this is still a young team in spite of the veteran Wilder. The Broncos use a two headed monster at center in 7 foot tall junior Seth Dugan and 6’10 senior Drake LaMont. Instead of being a rivalry, both players seem to do a good job of raising each other’s play.


Players to Watch

Thomas Wilder, Sr. Guard, Western Michigan: The 6’3 Wilder is not only one of the best point guards in the MAC, but the country.

Brandon Johnson, Soph Forward, Western Michigan: At first glance Johnson looks like he has made a huge jump from last season, scoring 14 in the opener. His post game seemed more polished.

Maik Kotsar, Soph. Forward, South Carolina: The 6’10 forward was the team’s leading scorer in the opener and a solid contributor last season.

Chris Silva, Soph. Forward, South Carolina: Had 13 points and 13 rebounds in semifinal game against Gonzaga in last season’s NCAA tournament. Averaged over a block a game.


Prediction

This is a huge game for Western Michigan if they want a chance at an at-large NCAA tournament bid. South Carolina is likely going to be a lot better team by the end of the year than they are now. The Gamecocks area young team and still trying to work in all the new faces. However, I think the crowd noise, defensive pressure, and energy level will be a little too much for the Broncos to overcome. USC 70, WMU 65.