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.
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.
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.