Western Michigan (5-2) at Northwestern (4-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: BTDN. Home Record: WMU 3-1, NU 3-1. Away Record: WMU 0-1, NU 1-2. Neutral Record: WMU 2-0, NU 0-2. Conference Record: WMU 0-0, NU 0-0. Series Record: Northwestern leads, 21-5.
GAME NOTES: Northwestern opens a five-game homestand on Saturday, and will try to get out of its funk when Western Michigan makes a visit to Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern has faced stiff competition the last three games and lost each one, the latest being a 69-48 drubbing at the hands of NC State as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Wildcats were paced by Drew Crawford with his 17 points and nine rebounds, but he shot just 5-of-16 from the floor. Tre Demps pitched in with 12 points in 19 minutes off the bench. The Wolfpack won the battle in the paint by a wide 38-10 margin.
Crawford, who has missed one game due to an injury, leads the team in points (14.6 ppg) and rebounds (7.1 rpg), JerShon Cobb is right behind at 13.9 ppg, and Demps has been efficient in limited minutes, logging 9.9 ppg in just over 20 minutes each time out.
Western Michigan has had more than a week off since disposing of Cornell, 83-70, on Nov. 29, which capped a successful 3-1 homestand.
Connar Tava, the reigning MAC West Player of the Week, and Shayne Whittington both logged double-doubles, and David Brown scored 16 points against the still-winless Big Red. Tava had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Whittington tallied 14 points and 12 boards for WMU, which shot 54 percent from the floor and held Cornell to 39.7 percent shooting.
Brown has led the team in scoring in all but one game this season, and has been filling up the box score to the tune of 21.6 ppg. Whittington is averaging a double-double with 16.6 points and 11.2 boards per outing, and Tava checks in with a respectable 13.4 ppg.
Western Michigan has gotten to the foul line an average of seven times more per game than the opposition, and a .718 shooting percentage at the stripe is a sure-fire way to get easy points.
The Broncos, though, have had only one true road test so far, and they've lost 11 straight meetings against Northwestern. Getting their first win over the Wildcats since Dec. 3, 1955 will be a monumental task, especially since Northwestern has the home court advantage.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 68, Western Michigan 61
12/07 10:43:19 ET