This Saturday at 1pm ET, Western Michigan (9-5, 0-1 MAC) will play host to Buffalo (10-3, 1-0 MAC) in WMU's conference home opener. On Tuesday, the Broncos got blown out by 20 facing Akron and on Wednesday Buffalo almost allowed a Miami comeback on the way to a 79-72 win.
These two squads line up pretty well statistically. The Bulls and the Broncos are averaging 74 and 72 points per game, respectively, while Buffalo allows 66 points per game and the Broncos are giving 67 per game.
Buffalo's two best scorers right now are junior forward Justin Moss (16.9 points per game) and sophomore guard Shannon Evans (15.9 points per game). Evans also leads the Bulls in assists with 5.3 per game and playing time, averaging 35 minutes.
Moss led the way for Buffalo against Miami on Wednesday, scoring a game-high 23 points and gathering 12 rebounds. Off the bench, Buffalo's senior forward Xavier Ford also provided 17 points over 30 minutes. A strong bench presence will be tough for WMU to combat.
The Broncos' offense has been dominated by junior forward Connar Tava, who is leading the team in points (15.2 per game), assists (3.9 per game), and rebounds (6.1 per game). Senior guard David Brown and sophomore forward Tucker Haymond are also providing 13.8 and 13.4 points per game, respectively.
In Western's loss to Akron, however, Tava was kept largely silent, scoring only six points. Tucker Haymond had a fantastic night however, scoring 21 while Brown followed that with 14.
A major problem for Western against Akron was a lack of size down low that resulted in defensive woes. I think that something similar might happen in this game. Buffalo is bringing down 38 rebounds a game while the Broncos have only mustered 30. And the Bulls are averaging 4.2 blocks per game to the Broncos' 1.8 per game.
In order to overcome this problem, WMU will have to build up a lead. Buffalo's stingy defense, however, may be able to contain a Bronco attack that has recently relied heavily on perimeter movement. But I think after Western's self-proclaimed embarrassment at Akron, and with the home-crowd behind them, the Broncos will be able to contain Evans just enough to pull off win. Final score prediction: WMU 65, Buffalo 63.