Western Michigan (1-1) vs. Loyola-Chicago (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 16, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sun Dome (10,411) -- Tampa, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: WMU 1-0, Loyola 2-0. Away Record: WMU 0-1, Loyola 0-0. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: Loyola-Chicago leads, 55-40.
GAME NOTES: The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers will try to keep their perfect record in tact at they challenge the Western Michigan Broncos in the first round of the USF Invitational on Friday evening in Tampa, Florida.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday and Sunday as well, alternating games against Maryland-Eastern Shore and the host school, South Florida.
Western Michigan is an even 1-1 on the young season after dropping a 63-55 decision at Cornell in the opener, and then whipping visiting NAIA foe Marygrove on Tuesday, 85-40. The Broncos will play nationally-ranked teams in Michigan and NC State during the non-league portion of their schedule, and they will open Mid-American Conference play at Akron on Jan. 9, 2013.
Loyola-Chicago already has a win over a MAC opponent this season, as it topped Toledo in a 62-50 decision in the opener last Friday. The Ramblers followed that triumph with a 64-41 blowout of Division II foe Rockhurst, and both games took place in the Windy City. Loyola has tough non-conference bouts against Michigan State and Mississippi State in the next month, and it will kick off Horizon League action at Valparaiso on Jan. 2, 2013. The Ramblers have lost eight of their last nine games away from home.
Loyola owns a 55-40 advantage in the all-time series with WMU, but the teams have split the last six meetings.
Western Michigan junior center Shayne Whittington already has two double- doubles this season, which is one more than he had in the first two years of his collegiate career combined. Whittington tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Broncos in their recent rout of Marygrove, as the team shot an even 50 percent from the field and took very good care of the basketball in committing a mere eight turnovers. Brandon Pokley led all scorers with 16 points, while Nate Hutcheson added 14 and Darius Paul chipped in with 11. Defensively, WMU held its overmatched opponent to 29.8 percent field goal efficiency, while forcing 21 turnovers, laying claim to a commanding 47-20 rebounding advantage, and outscoring the visitors at the foul line, 21-4.
Ben Averkamp scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help power Loyola- Chicago past Rockhurst earlier in the week. With the outcome never really in doubt, the Ramblers were able to empty the bench as 14 players saw time, 10 of which found their way into the scoring column. As a team, Loyola shot 49.1 percent from the field, despite missing two-thirds of its three-point attempts (4-of-12). Defensively, the Ramblers allowed the Hawks just 15 points in the first half and held them to a paltry 30.9 percent shooting effort for the game. Rockhurst hit only 2-of-10 long-range bombs, and committed 15 turnovers. Averkamp was high man for the Ramblers in their season opener against Toledo as well, netting 15 points in the 12-point victory.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched, but WMU seems to have the deeper roster at the moment. Couple that with Loyola's recent struggles away from home and the Broncos should be able to claim a narrow victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 66, Loyola-Chicago 62
11/16 12:29:03 ET