It was the week before Christmas and all through the house, college basketball bettors were looking to make some money on the Monday night clash between the Western Michigan Broncos and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Western Michigan Broncos vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Monday, December 20, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Purcell Pavilion
With games falling off NCAA basketball odds schedules left and right due to pandemic protocols, we can only cross our fingers that Monday’s interconference contest between Western Michigan and Notre Dame doesn’t fall victim to the same fate. The Broncos and Fighting Irish are hoping the same in order to get in some action before the Christmas break and their conference schedules picking up before New Year’s.
It will be a couple of sub-.500 squads hitting the floor in South Bend. Western Michigan was picked well back in the MAC in which Toledo and Ohio were consensus picks as the top two contenders. Notre Dame came up well short in the ACC on the college basketball futures that show Duke pulling away as the clear frontrunner in a league that is struggling on the non-conference schedule.
Is the Third Time for Broncs?
If you don’t have a ticket inside Purcell Pavilion, you can catch the contest on the ACC Network. The Fighting Irish are carrying 20½-point chalk at online betting sites where the scoreboard target is 140-140½.
Western Michigan and Notre Dame tried twice last season to play some hoops, but virus issues canceled both efforts. That makes Monday’s meeting the first matchup between the two programs since the Broncos and Fighting Irish collided in the opening round of the 1992 NIT. Notre Dame won the battle, 63-56, before going on to lose in the finals to Virginia.
That triumph gave the Fighting Irish their eighth win in a row over Western Michigan and pushed Notre Dame’s advantage in the series to 20-8. The last time the Broncos beat the Fighting Irish was in February 1966, the season finale for Western Michigan that year, and their last win over a Power 6 team was an upset of Virginia Tech in November 2006.
Defense Has Been WMU’s Achilles
This will be the final non-conference game for Clayton Bates and his Broncos, and they’ve been blown out in their two previous meetings against Power 6 conference crews with losses at Iowa and Michigan State. In each of those contests, Western Michigan was an underdog of 25+ points and failed to cover the betting odds.
At least they come to South Bend off a winning performance, though the Broncos’ matchup this past Saturday in Kalamazoo with Aquinas College failed to even make the board. If there had been a line against the Saints of the NAIA, Western Michigan likely wouldn’t have covered with the final 67-56 decision.
In both blowout losses to Michigan State and Iowa earlier this season, the Broncos failed miserably on the defensive end of the floor. The Spartans shot 51.5% (34-66) from the field and also had a 58-28 advantage on the glass, while the Hawkeyes converted nearly 53% of their field goals while netting 12-of-26 (46%) from 3-point range.
‘Under’ a Winner in ND’s Last Three
It’s not like Mike Brey’s bunch was expected to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament before the season started, but we certainly expected a little more from a team that was returning four starters and its top 3 scorers from a year ago. As it stands now, this year’s Notre Dame highlight film presently has just a few clips of the mild upset at home over Kentucky a couple of weekends ago.
Notre Dame ran out of gas last Saturday against rival Indiana, falling by a 64-56 count as 5-point underdogs at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review). The Fighting Irish and Hoosiers were knotted 46-46 with eight minutes remaining but Notre Dame then went into a 5-minute scoring drought that essentially decided matters for the in-state showdown. It marked the fourth loss in five games for the Fighting Irish who failed to cover any of the defeats.
So, we have a team that doesn’t play very well on defense going up a team that has proven to be weak offensively. Notre Dame has been asked to cover 20-point spreads three times, and only succeeded against Chaminade. I’ll take the Broncos and the points with my free college basketball pick.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.