NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Mid-American Conference
Past Conferences: MAC
City: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Stadium: University Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 1976, 1998, 2004, 2014
National Championships: 0
Conference Titles: 2
During the 1913-14 season, Western Michigan Broncos’ men’s basketball began as an individual program. Similar to any other team that began as individual programs, these schools didn’t get as much exposure to become relative in any major tournaments.
After decades of competing, the school finally made the transition to the Mid-American Conference in the 1947-48 season, with Herbert W. Buck Read’s tenure nearing its end at the time. Although the program didn’t make any surprise leaps during his last two years, the teams he coached stayed above the .500 mark.
The Broncos would go through several coaching changes before any momentum swung their way. Coach Eldon Miller would lead the Broncos to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in the 1975-76 season before the Ohio native took the job in his home state with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Odds were the highest as the team was ranked 10th because of its 25-3 record overall and 15-2 conference record. In the quarterfinals, the Broncos defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies before losing to the Marquette Golden Eagles in the Regional Semifinals. On paper, this would be the only time the program reached the Sweet 16 in its history.
Making the NIT in ’92
The team made the NIT in the 1992 season, but the program would remain dormant for the most part. The men’s basketball team would turn the tide once more in the 1997-98 season as an 11th-seeded team in the dance.
Even though the team didn’t reach the same level of success, the Western Michigan team stats showed that the squad wasn’t going to go down without putting up a fight. After escaping with a narrow three-point victory over the Clemson Tigers, they advanced to the second round. In the second round, the team would get torched on both sides of the court against the Stanford Cardinals.
After making the NIT in the 2003 season, the Broncos would punch their tickets to the dance two more times as an 11th seed in 2004 and the 14th seed in 2014. In both cases, the team was dominated in the first round by the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Syracuse Orange, respectively.
After leaving the Michigan State Spartans where he was assistant coach, Dwayne Stephens will now be calling the shots for Western Michigan. He will look to get the program back on track as the Broncos will face some long NCAAB odds once again in the 2022-23 season.
- Points Scored
- David Kool 2,122
- Thomas Wilder 2,040
- Manny Newsome 1,786
- Paul Griffin 1,008
- Tom Cutter 947
- Joe Reitz 939
- Mike Douglas 477
- Billy Stanback 427
- Thomas Wilder 413
- Robby Collum 199
- Thomas Wilder 190
- Booker James 185
What Was the Best Season in Program History?
The 2003-04 season is when the program showcased the most wins in the regular season. However, the 1975-76 season was arguably the school’s best year in its history, as the team made it to the Sweet 16.
Who Is the Winningest Coach in Program History?
Herbert W. Buck Read is the winningest coach in the program’s history by a mile, with a record of 358-173 during his 28-year tenure. He leads Steve Hawkins’ wins by over 60 games, and his win-to-loss percentage is higher by nearly 15 percentage points.
Who Is the Greatest Player in Program History?
The greatest player in Western Michigan Broncos’ history would have to be Paul Griffin; he had the longest career in the NBA, since he played for the New Orleans Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs as a fifth-round draft pick in 1976.