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Northwestern basketball vs. Western Michigan Preview/Game Thread

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NU won easily in football against Western Michigan in September, but the basketball team won't have it so easy.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

NU is back in action this evening against the Broncos of Western Michigan, at 4 PM central. The game, for some reason, is not being televised. You can watch on BTN.com for a fee or listen on WGN.

While WMU certainly doesn't have much in the way of basketball history (just 3 NCAA tournament appearances, none since 2004), they are a decent team. Last year they won 22 games and won the MAC West, and so far this year they are off to a 5-2 start and have two wins way better than anything NU has (New Mexico State and Oakland), don't have any terrible losses, and have two very good players who figure to give NU trouble.

Their leading scorer is guard David Brown, who averages nearly 22 points per game. Brown is a huge chucker, taking an obscene 37% of the shots when he's on the floor, but he gets to the line a ton and is shooting 60% from two point range, an outstanding total for a 6'3" guard. He also takes a ton of threes and shoots just 27% behind the arc, so definitely go underneath ball screens when defending him. They also have a 6'11" center named Shayne Wittington who averages 16 points and 11 rebounds per game, and is one of the nation's rebounders so far this year, grabbing a ridiculous 31% of opponent's misses. Alex Olah is going to have his hands full.

In addition a scorer who's capable of taking over the game and a bruising big man, WMU is one of the best in the nation at getting to the free throw line; they've attempted 220 free throws in 7 games. It will be extremely important for NU stay out of foul trouble given their lack of depth.

According to KenPom.com, WMU is the second-worst team left on NU's schedule, and yet NU only has a 71% chance of winning. In fact, other than a game against horrible MIssissippi Valley State, NU doesn't have an easy win left on the schedule. So it would be really nice if NU could win this one comfortably and go into the exam break with something to build in, but it won't be easy.

So if like me you're going to be watching this game, stop by and chat. Or if you're watching college football instead, which would be perfectly understandable, stop by and chat about that.

Go Cats, y'all.