Two teams wrapping up their 2020-21 seasons square off on Friday when the Eastern Michigan Eagles visit the Western Michigan Broncos. Both teams are outside of the top eight in the Mid-American Conference standings heading into Friday’s regular-season finale, meaning they won’t advance to next week’s conference tournament.
The Broncos (5-15) are looking to end on a high note, having already won at Northern Illinois this week to snap a four-game losing streak. Western Michigan is in ninth place in the MAC, entering this one with a 4-11 record against conference competition.
The Eagles (5-12) have just one win since mid-January, topping Northern Illinois last weekend. Eastern Michigan dealt with a shutdown of nearly four weeks starting at the end of January and has gone 1-4 in the five games since returning to action. EMU is 2-11 when facing MAC foes this season, putting it in 11th place in the conference standings coming into Friday night’s game.
If you’re betting online on this contest, Western Michigan is a two-point favorite at home, with the over/under being set at 134 points.
Wrapping It Up
Coach Rob Murphy has a senior-laden lineup, with four of his starting five entering what may be their last collegiate game. We say “may be” because of the NCAA making college basketball news by giving all seniors a chance to come back for an extra season, though it’s uncertain how many will take advantage of that opportunity.
Senior forward Ty Groce leads the offensive attack for the Eagles, averaging 15.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Groce is seventh in the MAC in field-goal percentage, connecting on 52.7% of his shots from the field.
Junior guard Bryce McBride is scoring 13.6 points per game and leading Eastern Michigan with 2.5 assists per game. McBride leads the Eagles with 32 3-pointers on the season, connecting on 34% of his shots from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Yeiks Montero is the third double-figure scorer for EMU, averaging 12.5 points to go with 5.5 rebounds. He’s a major factor defensively for the Eagles, leading the MAC and ranking 18th in the country with his 2.2 steals per game, as Eastern Michigan leads the conference in both steals (8.8) and turnovers forced (15.5) per game.
The Broncos are hoping to match their season-long winning streak of two with a win in this one, but they’ll have to buck a trend to do so. Western Michigan has lost its last three regular-season finales.
Sophomore guard B. Artis White has been the spark plug for the WMU offense this season, averaging a team-high 14.3 points. White has taken and made more than half of his field-goal attempts from 3-point range this season, leading the Broncos with 54 3-pointers on 41.9% shooting.
Senior forward Greg Lee is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.9 points, and leads the Broncos with 2.3 assists per game. He also is grabbing a team-high 7.1 rebounds per contest.
Sophomore center Titus Wright is shooting 56.9% from the field, which is third in the MAC, and averages 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. The trio of White, Lee and Wright has accounted for 53.4% of Western Michigan’s offense this season.
Knowing that they’re playing the last game of their seasons, these two teams should be able to leave it all on the floor. Yes, it’s not an NCAA March Madness game, but taking on an in-state conference rival holds some prestige for the winner as well.
Eastern Michigan has struggled to get wins this season, but it should put together a solid effort in this one, especially with so many seniors in its lineup. But in the end, the host Broncos will have too much offense for the Eagles to keep up with.
When making your college basketball picks, take Western Michigan to win and cover at home.