Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#685 Western Michigan vs.
#686 Ole Miss
Friday, November 15, 2019 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Chris Altruda

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#685 Western Michigan University
#686 University of Mississippi
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Western Michigan at Ole Miss

When and Where: Friday, Nov. 15, The Pavilion, Oxford, Miss., 7 p.m. EST.

Kermit Davis looks to continue getting his team ready to peak for the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday night when Ole Miss hosts Western Michigan as part of the games played on campus sites.

Broncos with first of two challenging road games

Western Michigan is seeking its first 4-0 start in 22 years and will make a trip to Orlando for its portion of the NIT for games against Yale and either Bucknell or Seattle. The Broncos are coming off a 91-81 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday night, getting a balanced effort as four players finished in double figures.

Brandon Johnson scored 20 points and Michael Flowers added 18 as Western Michigan grabbed control of the game with a 17-3 run to close the first half and kept the Delta Devils at arm's length in the final 20 minutes. Freshman Chase Barrs chipped in a season-high 17 off the bench as Western Michigan got 33 points from its reserves.

The Broncos have been progressing offensively in each game, going from shooting 36.2 percent in their opener versus McNeese State to 44.8 percent in a triple-overtime victory over Milwaukee to 50.9 percent Tuesday night. Western Michigan is averaging 93.7 points, which was good for 14th in Division I heading into play Thursday night.

Flowers is averaging 25.3 points and has been blistering from the perimeter, hitting 13 of 17 (76.5 percent) from 3-point range. Johnson is contributing 16 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest, and while Flowers is hot from beyond the arc, the rest of the Broncos are not -- his teammates have made a combined 14 for 52 (26.9 percent).

Western Michigan has a home game against non-Division I foe Alma before going to Oklahoma State next Friday.

Rebels trying to avoid looking ahead to showdown at Memphis

Davis overachieved to a large degree in his first season in Oxford, getting 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament berth before flaming out in the first round versus Oklahoma. Ole Miss lost three starters from that team, but holdover guards Breein Tyree and Devontae Shuler have taken the reins early along with sophomore forward KJ Buffen.

Buffen, who averaged 6.5 points as a freshman in 2018-19, scored a career-high 23 as Ole Miss had to grind past Norfolk State 68-55 on Tuesday night. He also pulled down nine rebounds while hitting 9 of 13 shots.

“I am a lot stronger in my second year, so it is just easier,” Buffen told The Associated Press. “I am more comfortable out there.”

Tyree, who was held to six in Ole Miss' season-opening win over Arkansas State, bounced back with 21 against the Spartans but is still looking for his perimeter stroke. Tyree, who shot 37.5 percent from 3-point range last season, is 3 for 15 from beyond the arc.

The Rebels will play their other home game for the NIT on Tuesday night versus Seattle before stepping up in class with a game at No. 13 Memphis. Ole Miss will play Penn State in the NIT semifinals before facing either Oklahoma State or Syracuse.

Shuler has fared better from the perimeter in the early going, sinking 5 of 11 while scoring 16 points per game.

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While Western Michigan has been proficient on the offensive end, it has been haphazard playing defense. The Broncos have yielded 85.3 points per game in their three wins and giving up 12.3 offensive rebounds per contest.

Ole Miss' upperclassmen-dominated backcourt of Tyree and Shuler, coupled with Buffen getting off to a strong start means the Rebels should be able to take care of business in this game provided they are not peeking down the road.

Prediction: Ole Miss -20

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This will be close, but the hedge is Ole Miss' defense will win out the day and keep it just under the total. Per KenPom, the Rebels are 15th when it comes to defensive field goal efficiency and 59th in adjusted efficiency at 92.1 points per 100 possessions.

The under has also carried the day in Oxford, going 8-1 in Ole Miss' last nine versus teams with a winning road record and 5-2 in the last seven at The Pavilion according to Covers.com.

Prediction: Under 143.5 points
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.