It’s been a whole three weeks since we last checked in on our five Michigan mid-majors in college basketball. And since there are only two weeks remaining (one for the Horizon folk) in the regular season, we’ll get you caught up to speed.
Now for one-bid leagues like the Mid-American Conference and the Horizon League, the regular season virtually becomes watered down. Which means for some of our teams more than others, recent slumps can be quickly fixed by peaking at the right time.
So let’s preview the last stretch run for our five schools and see how each of them stack up.
1. CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS
LAST THREE WEEKS: W vs. WMU, W @ OHIO, L @ MIA, L vs. BUF, L vs. BLLST
OVERALL RECORD: 16-11, 6-8 MAC
The Chippewas followed up a nice little run of winning five of six games with a three-game slide, two of which came at home. The Chips need to find some sort of momentum or they’ll be left out of the dance for a 14th straight season.
The good news is that Marcus Keene is still doing Marcus Keene things. Averaging 31 PPG over the team’s last five games, Keene is still north of 30 PPG on the season, but by the slimmest of margins. But outside of him and Braylon Mason (21.2 PPG this season), the Chips are struggling to find help elsewhere and are still giving up points in bunches.
Central has a bit of an unpredictable schedule to close out, given their general home/road splits and previous result against their remaining opponents.
- Tues, Feb 21 vs. Northern Illinois | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Sat, Feb 25 @ Toledo | 7 p.m. ET
- Tues, Feb 28 vs. Eastern Michigan | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Fri, Mar 3 @ Western Michigan | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
2. DETROIT MERCY TITANS
LAST THREE WEEKS: L @ CLEST, W @ YSU, L vs. OAK, L vs. UIC, L vs. VALP
OVERALL RECORD: 6-21, 4-11 Horizon
The season-long struggles have continued for the Titans and first-year head coach Bacari Alexander, albeit rather expected with a lot of roster turnover and no true go-to players for leading and scoring.
There have been some steady performers over this recent stretch that should not go unnoticed entirely. The team’s two leading scorers, junior Jaleel Hogan and freshman Corey Allen, have been consistent as of late. Hogan over his last five is averaging 16.6 PPG, while Allen is close to 20 PPG during that stretch, both above their season averages.
Obviously in a one-bid league like the Horizon, it opens the door for any possibilities. Detroit winning the league tournament would truly be a stunning accomplishment. Horizon League action is actually done this week.
- Tues, Feb 21 vs. Cleveland State | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Fri, Feb 24 @ UW-Milwaukee | 8 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Sun, Feb 26 @ UW-Green Bay | 3 p.m. ET on ESPN3
3. EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES
LAST THREE WEEKS: L vs. KSU, L @ NIU, L @ TOL, L vs. AKR, L vs. OHIO, L @ WMU
OVERALL RECORD: 13-14, 5-9 MAC
It’s pretty remarkable how things can change so quickly during the season. What seemed like a rather comfortable position and feeling in Ypsilanti has flipped upside down in a matter of three weeks. Their average margin of defeat during this six-game skid is a shade over 10 points, which means they’re in most of if not all the games until the very end.
Despite the stack of L’s, the Eagles are still getting quality showings from James Thompson IV and Willie Mangum IV. Thompson nearly averaged a double-double over the last five (13.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG), which is what he’s done all season. Mangum meanwhile is slightly above his season average (15.4) over his last five (16.4).
The good news for EMU is that not only are they in a one-bid league, but they have shown already this season they can get on a roll, as evident by two separate stretches of winning six of seven games.
- Tues, Feb 21 @ Ball State | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Sat, Feb 25 vs. Northern Illinois | Noon ET on ESPN3
- Tues, Feb 28 @ Central Michigan | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Fri, Mar 3 vs. Toledo | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
4. OAKLAND GOLDEN GRIZZLIES
LAST THREE WEEKS: W @ YSU, W @ CLEST, W @ DET, W vs. UIC, W vs. VALP
OVERALL RECORD: 21-7, 11-4 Horizon
Talking about righting the ship at the right moment. As if there was any shred of concern surrounding the Grizzlies about a month ago, that has evaporated away over the last three weeks.
That’s now six straight in the win column for Greg Kampe and the Grizzlies, all by an average margin close to double-digits. And not surprising, it’s been the Jalen Hayes and/or Martez Walker show. Hayes is averaging 15.8 PPG and 8.6 RPG during the team’s winning streak. Meanwhile for Walker, the last time he was not in double-figures for scoring was the first weekend of January (11 straight games).
Oakland is definitely on a roll and a regular season crown is still a possibility, although they will need some help. Hopefully the Grizzlies have not peaked too early before the conference tournament.
- Tues, Feb 21 vs. Youngstown State | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Fri, Feb 24 @ UW-Green Bay | 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU or WatchESPN
- Sun, Feb 26 @ UW-Milwaukee | 3 p.m. ET on ESPN3
5. WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS
LAST THREE WEEKS: L @ CMU, W @ MIA, W vs. NIU, W vs. BGSU, W vs. EMU
OVERALL RECORD: 11-15, 7-7 MAC
How about the Broncos finding some late-season momentum as well? They’re riding a season-high four-game winning streak and have vastly improved their position in the conference standings.
The standings again are virtually non-existent but the momentum is very much key. Now it becomes a matter, like Oakland, if they are peaking at the right moment or too early.
Of course junior Thomas Wilder is going to be part of the recent success, but there’s been a huge uptick in production from senior Tucker Haymond as well. Wilder is posting 21.6 PPG over his last five, inflating his season average thanks to a 38-point performance against Bowling Green. Haymond is also well-above his season average (14.8) over his last five (20.6), including double-doubles in each of his last two games.
Can Western Michigan keep the line moving to finish out the regular season?
- Tues, Feb 21 @ Toledo | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Sat, Feb 25 vs. Ball State | 2 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Tues, Feb 28 @ Northern Illinois | 8 p.m. ET on ESPN3
- Fri, Mar 3 vs. Central Michigan | 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3