All good things must come to an end at some point. And we’re looking at our final hoops roundup of the season. Thanks a ton to those who enjoy the content.
First, let’s congratulate Michigan on another impressive showing in the Big Ten Tournament to earn a second straight conference tournament title heading into the big dance. After narrowly escaping 13-seed Iowa, the Wolverines proceeded to take out three of the top four seeds in the league by an average margin of 13 points.
Now, both Michigan and Michigan State will have roughly two weeks off before tipping off their NCAA Tournament endeavors (nice job, Big Ten… woof). We now turn our attention to the Horizon League and the MAC, where the former has one local team left standing in the semifinals, and the latter league tips off their tournament on Monday.
MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Here is a quick look at the 12-team bracket for the MAC Tournament, which begins Monday night.
ICYMI: The MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket was released yesterday!
— #MACtion (@MACSports) March 4, 2018
Let’s do some quick hits on the three ‘Directional’ Michigan hoops teams and their outlook from here on out.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS
RECAP: Central Michigan (18-13, 7-11 MAC) concluded their regular season, albeit under unfortunate circumstances with the shooting that took place on campus late last week, with two straight wins, including a victory over rival Western Michigan. The other win was a dominant showing at home against Ball State just days prior, which ultimately helped the Chips’ other in-state rival in terms of seeding.
UP NEXT: The 8-seed in this conference tournament, CMU will take on the 9-seed Falcons of Bowling Green (16-15, 7-11 MAC), who have lost five straight to end the season. First-round games will be played on campus sites, so the higher-seeded Chippewas will be hosting BGSU. These two met just once earlier this season way back on January 20 down in Bowling Green, resulting in an 84-75 win for Central Michigan.
Should CMU win, they would advance to play the 1-seed Buffalo Bisons in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 8 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Shawn Roundtree has been a steady hand for CMU all season long and that figures to be the case again this week. The former Missouri State transfer collected 27 points in the season finale against WMU on Saturday, two shy of his season- and career-high, good for his eighth game of 20+ points this season. Roundtree netted 19 in the first meeting against BGSU.
TIP-OFF: Monday, March 5 @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3
EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES
RECAP: Hey don’t look now, but Eastern Michigan (20-11, 11-7 MAC) is the hottest team in the league right now. The Eagles finished out the year winning their final six games, which included a win at Western Michigan to secure a first-round bye in the conference tournament, followed up with a statement win at Toledo to earn a season series sweep of the Rockets.
UP NEXT: With that first-round bye, EMU will not take the floor again until Thursday, March 8 when the scene shifts to Cleveland. The 3-seed Eagles will get the winner of No. 6 Western Michigan vs. No. 11 Akron (which we will dissect momentarily). Eastern Michigan split with the Broncos, and won their only meeting with the Zips back on January 16 in Ypsilanti.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Junior Paul Jackson was the star for Eastern Michigan last week. The transfer, by way of Eastern Kentucky, scored a game-high 21 points in the win over Western Michigan, then chipped in with 16 against Toledo, including a triple with less than 10 seconds left in the contest to ground the Rockets.
TIP-OFF: Thursday, March 8 @ approx. 9 p.m. ET on ESPN3, following the conclusion of Toledo vs. Winner of Ohio vs. Miami-Ohio
WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS
RECAP: Unfortunately for Western Michigan (17-14, 9-9 MAC), the momentum from their rivals could not be spread west towards Kalamazoo. And that’s entirely due to the fact that they suffered double-digit losses to both mitten rivals in the final week of the regular season. Now we see if the Broncos can turn things around.
UP NEXT: As stated previously, Eastern Michigan is awaiting the winner of the matchup between WMU and Akron (13-17, 6-12 MAC), which takes place on Monday in Kalamazoo. While the Zips did win their season finale at home against Kent State, they finished the year dropping eight of their final 11 games. Western has already beaten Akron once at home, an 87-75 win on January 2. Akron is also 1-8 in league road games this year.
PLAYER TO WATCH: It’s Thomas Wilder time for Western Michigan. The Broncos’ leading scorer didn’t put forth his best game of the year against EMU, scoring just nine points on 3/10 shooting from the floor. But he bounced back with 22 points on 9/18 shooting in the loss to CMU. Wilder, in five career conference tournament games, is averaging close to 14 PPG.
TIP-OFF: Monday, March 5 @ 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3
OAKLAND GOLDEN GRIZZLIES
RECAP: In case you didn’t follow the Horizon League postseason hoops tournament closely, Oakland (19-13, 10-8 Horizon) is still very much alive. The 4-seed Golden Grizzlies bounced 5-seed IUPUI on Sunday, 62-55. Perhaps more impressively, OU did it without the services of five players due to injuries, including third-leading scorer Martez Walker.
UP NEXT: So at least on paper, Oakland is getting a semifinal matchup against a more favorable opponent. The Grizzlies will take on 8-seed Cleveland State (11-22, 6-12 Horizon), who knocked out the top-seeded Norse of Northern Kentucky on Saturday. OU has already taken down the Vikings twice this season, but if the injury bug is still swarming and they have a depleted lineup again, it could be troublesome.
PLAYER TO WATCH: This is around the time of the year in college hoops when teams have a go-to guy to battle adversity and simply carry the team in this “survive and advance” atmosphere. Kendrick Nunn HAS to be that guy for Oakland. Nunn only scored (exaggerated emphasis on only) 18 points on 6/20 shooting against IUPUI, but hit some clutch freebies late to help seal the win over the Jaguars. The mitten-made Grizzlies got double-digit scoring outputs from three other players as well, but they’ll need the nation’s leading scorer to be as such from here on out.
TIP-OFF: Monday, March 5 @ 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU