Mittens’ Mitten Roundup – College Hoops, Week 15

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One month from this past Sunday, the field of 68 for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will be revealed. In fact, it was on Sunday that the selection committee revealed a sneak peek of who the top 16 teams in the tournament — top four in each region — would be if the dance started today.

Our Big Ten contingent here in the mitten are shoe-ins and working to pad their resumé before Selection Sunday. As for the other five schools, they reside in one-bid leagues so they will need to get hot at the right moment. Let’s see what’s on tap for everybody this week.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS

RECAP: It was a tough week for Central Michigan (15-10, 4-8 MAC), losing to cross-division foes Buffalo and Akron by single digits. The remaining schedule for CMU consists of games against teams within their own division, which is relatively pedestrian top to bottom, aside from division leader Toledo.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.13 – @ Northern Illinois (11-14, 4-8 MAC) | 8 p.m. ET
  • 02.17 – vs. Eastern Michigan (14-11, 5-7 MAC) | 4:30 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: We recently highlighted CMU sophomore and Warren-native Kevin McKay for his adequate bench production for the Chips this season. The De La Salle Collegiate grad McKay continued that success last week with 12- and 14-point games. In the latter performance against Akron, he grabbed 10 boards for his first double-double of the season.

DETROIT MERCY TITANS

RECAP: Detroit (7-19, 3-10 Horizon) lost their only tilt last week, an 87-78 defeat on the road to “Metro Series” rival Oakland out in Rochester. The loss puts the Titans alone in the basement of the Horizon League with five games remaining in their regular season. However, they continue what is currently a four-game road trip, and the Titans are 1-8 in true road games this season.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.14 – @ Cleveland State (7-20, 4-10 Horizon) | 7 p.m. ET
  • 02.16 – @ Youngstown St. (7-20, 5-9 Horizon) | 7 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: Senior transfer Roschon Prince posted a 10-point, 13-rebound game against Oakland for just his second double-double of the year. The former Long Beach State and Southern Cal performer has seen more playing time in league games for the Titans, and it has translated to improve production. He’s scored in double-figures in eight of the team’s 13 conference games.

EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES

RECAP: Eastern Michigan nearly earned two victories last week, but stumbled on the road late against Bowling Green, surrendering a double-digit second-half lead before losing in overtime. Still, it is probably the best stretch of five games for the Eagles in about two months, having won three of five overall.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.13 – vs. Miami-OH (13-12, 6-6 MAC) | 7 p.m. ET
  • 02.17 – @ Central Michigan | 4:30 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: One would be hard-pressed to find a better story in the mitten on the hardwood than that of EMU redshirt freshman Ty Groce. The former Ypsilanti Lincoln standout, who was originally committed to Northeastern, transferred back home in the fall of 2016 before his freshman season after battling severe depression and anxiety issues.

A former Class A all-state performer, Groce has not only gradually improved health-wise, but he is now becoming a steady contributor off the bench for the Eagles. He poured in 20 points over 46 minutes of action last week, including just his fourth 10+ game of the season against Kent State.

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

RECAP: Michigan (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten) bounced back with a porous shooting performance at Northwestern with a contrasting efficient shooting clinic in Madison against Wisconsin to salvage a .500 week. The Wolverines currently find themselves in a dogfight for a top-4 seed in the conference (which equivocates to a double-bye in the conference tournament) with a couple of surprising clubs in Nebraska and a surging Penn State.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.14 – vs. Iowa (12-15, 3-11 Big Ten) | 6:30 p.m. ET
  • 02.18 – vs. Ohio State (22-5, 13-1 Big Ten) | 1 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Moe Wagner was one of two Wolverines to eclipse double-figures in both of the team’s games last week. Wagner posted a pair of 20-point games and was one rebound shy (nine vs. NW) of making it consecutive double-doubles as well. It’s the first time the big German has netted 20 points in back-to-back contests since the final week of November.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

RECAP: Michigan State (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) really weathered the storm last week, coming from behind in both games against Iowa and Purdue to extend their winning streak to eight games. And while they were not exactly dominating performances, MSU is (presumably) back at No. 1 in the latest AP Poll and will be under major consideration for a 1-seed in the tournament, should they take care of business from here on out.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.13 – @ Minnesota (14-13, 3-11 Big Ten) | 9 p.m. ET
  • 02.17 – @ Northwestern (15-11, 6-7 Big Ten) | 2 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: MSU sophomore Miles Bridges led the Spartans in scoring in each of their games last week against the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers. Bridges in totally tallied 45 points. Against Iowa, he had a major steal late to help avoid a huge upset. And against Purdue, he was responsible for the game-winner with just seconds remaining. Often dubbed a “humble superstar,” Bridges will need to be “the guy” for Michigan State down the stretch and have no such off nights.

OAKLAND GOLDEN GRIZZLIES

RECAP: Oakland (16-10, 8-5 Horizon) took care of business in their lone game last week against in-state rival Detroit. With five games remaining, the Grizzlies play teams that all currently sit below them in the conference standings. The next three are away from the O’Rena, but they are 4-2 on road league games so far this year.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.14 – @ Youngstown St. | 7 p.m. ET
  • 02.16 – @ Cleveland State | 7 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: So Kendrick Nunn is back to being Kendrick Nunn. Not that he ever took a break or anything, but he was very marginally not as crisp in his last few games or so. Nunn against Detroit scored 28 points, 21 of which came in the second half to help put the game away, and he knocked down five of the team’s eight made triples in that game. The point totals in each game for the Illinois transfer have increased over each of the last four times out.

WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS

RECAP: Outside of Michigan State, Western Michigan (15-10, 7-5 MAC) probably had the best week of the five mid-majors in the mitten. The Broncos picked up home wins against Miami and Ohio, and have now won four of five overall. That’s the good news. The bad news is they play four of their final six games away from the ‘Zoo; WMU is just 2-3 in conference on the road.

UP NEXT (Click here for broadcast information):

  • 02.13 – @ Bowling Green (15-10, 6-6 MAC) | 7 p.m. ET
  • 02.17 – @ Northern Illinois | 4:30 p.m. ET

PLAYER TO WATCH: Sophomore Reggie Jones was arguably the most efficient scorer for Western Michigan last week. Jones scored a game-high 20 in 35 minutes against Miami, his first game of at least 20 points since December 6, then followed that up with 13 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.