2014 NCAA Bracket Predictions: Can The Western Michigan Broncos Upset Syracuse


Mar 15, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Western Michigan Broncos head coach Steve Hawkins celebrates with his team after winning the championship game for the MAC college basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. The Broncos won 98-77. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Western Michigan Broncos (23-9) earned a berth into the NCAA tournament by winning the 2013 MAC Tournament. Now the MAC regular season and tournament champion will take on the Syracuse Orange of Thursday in Buffalo New York. But are the kids for Kalamazoo poised for an upset.

Prior to every tournament, the Bracketology guru’s try to predict first round upsets.  Usually they look at the 3, 4 and 5 seeds and potential upset victims.  On the surface it seems Syracuse might be one of teams ripe for an upset.

Syracuse, who has been sitting atop the Top 25 for most of the year, has lost 5 of their last 7 games including an 66-63 upset loss to North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament. On the other hand Western Michigan has won 12 of their last 13 that includes a 7 game win streak though the MAC Tournament.

So does that mean the Broncos are ready to upset the Syracuse Orange.

Sorry Bronco fans but not likely.

As impressive a season as the Broncos had their 23-9 record came against MAC competition. The MAC failed to produce an at large team for this years tournament which says a lot about the perceived level of competition in the league.

Additionally, Western Michigan lacks big game experience against the AP Top 25. The Broncos had only one game during the regular season against a top 25 opponent. It resulted in a 66-60 loss to the #24 Missouri Tigers on December 15th.  Missouri failed to make the tournament this year.

Despite their lack of experience against the T0p 25, Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins thinks his team can wear down The Orange.

"Like in boxing, if you give your opponent enough body blows, when the hands come down, that’s when you try to deliver the knockout,” Hawkins said. “In basketball terms, you kind of grind away, diving for loose balls. You get physical and rebound, you run your offense hard and play tough on defense. Those are the equivalent of body blows and that’s what maybe allows a 10-2 run to occur. And that 10-2 run or 12-4 run can be the difference in the game.”So much of the NCAA tournament comes down to matchups,” Hawkins said. “I know this, I know our kids will play extremely hard. That’s who we are. We’re a blue-collar program.”"

Fans will see what both teams are made of when they tip-off on Thursday at 2:30 pm from Buffalo , New York.