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The Western Michigan Broncos host the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday night in what should be a defensive struggle. WMU has lost three games in a row and was held to 63 or fewer points in each loss. The Broncos, who were picked to finish near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference, played Oklahoma State tight, eventually falling 70-63 in Stillwater. Most recently they fell to Seattle 59-55 in the NIT Orlando Season Tip-off.
Oakland is in the midst of playing four straight road games against MAC opponents. The Golden Grizzlies lost to Northern Illinois 74-50 and to Toledo 65-63. After facing WMU, they'll take on Bowling Green later in the weekend. Oakland scores just 63.3 points per game and likes to play at a very slow tempo. The group was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League.
Oakland goes for first road winThe Oakland Golden Grizzlies returned three starters from a team that went 16-17 last year. Senior forward Xavier Hill-Mais was a Preseason All-Horizon League First Team selection after scoring 18.3 points per game a year ago. Hill-Mais' scoring touch hasn't quite matched his junior season production -- he's averaging 13.9 ppg -- but is on a roll of late with 13 or more points in each of the last four games. Hill-Mais also leads the team with 1.4 steals per game.
Sophomore forward Daniel Oladapo is a nightly double-double threat. The Maryland native is averaging 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Junior guard Kevin Kangu leads the team in assists (4.1 per game) but is in a severe shooting slump. Oakland's true center is senior Brad Brechting. He scored 13 points against Toledo. The Golden Grizzlies run a tempo that ranks 326th in the nation according to KenPom. Expect slow and few possessions.
WMU hopes to get back on trackWestern Michigan is coming off a pitiful 2018-19 season that resulted in an 8-24 record. The Broncos are already halfway to last year's win total but have lost four in a row. A quick glance at WMU's season stats shows that its biggest weakness is distributing the ball: the team averages just 9.8 assists per game. Standout junior guard Michael Flowers is responsible for over a third of those assists and also leads the team with 19.8 ppg. He hit four of eight 3-pointer against Oklahoma State.
Junior forward Brandon Johnson is the team's leader in rebounds (7.8 boards per game) and also scores 14.9 ppg. Johnson played his best game of the season last Tuesday, tallying 19 points and nine rebounds against Seattle. Sophomore guard Jason Whitens is another force on the glass, averaging over seven rebounds per game. WMU allows 77 points per game and ranks 290th in defensive efficiency per KenPom.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on covers.com, are:
- Broncos are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games vs. Horizon League opponents.
- Golden Grizzlies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games vs. Mid-American Conference opponents.
- Golden Grizzlies are 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With a one-point line, this game isn't much more than a pick 'em. I'm going with Western Michigan at home where they're 3-0. Oakland, on the other hand, is 0-3 on the road. The Broncos should benefit from playing at a slower tempo than normal (and they already like to play slow). Junior guard Michael Flowers is the top pure scorer on the court and should lift WMU in the game's late going.
Prediction: Western Michigan +1
Full-Game Total Pick
The number 128 is a pretty low line but then again these are two low scoring teams. The reason that I'm going over here is that neither defense is all that great, either. Western Michigan ranks 290th in defensive efficiency and Oakland ranks 167th according to KenPom. The over is 16-5 in the Broncos' last 21 games following an ATS loss.
Prediction: Over 128