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Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles men's basketball preview: Let the Michigan MAC series begin

EMU at CMU will be the first leg in determining who will win this year's Michigan MAC trophy, currently held by the Broncos.

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Eastern Michigan Eagles (12-6, 1-4 MAC) will take a two-hour road trip to face off against rivaled Central Michigan (13-3, 3-2 MAC) in Mt. Pleasant. This game will get things started for our Michigan MAC festivities, currently held by Western Michigan.

Central is on the rise

Yesterday, the NCAA released its Week 1 power rankings (even though Week 1 was a long time ago), which had CMU tabbed at no. 14 on that list.

The Chippewas, coming out of the MAC, rank second in the nation in scoring (85.2 ppg) and fifth in field-goal percentage (50.0).

It's funny, really. CMU scores all them points but they only have one player that's top-20 in the MAC in scoring: Chris Fowler (14.3 ppg). However, they still have three others that average double-digit scoring on a regular basis. But with good scoring from others like John Simons (11.1), Braylon Rayson (10.9) and Rayshawn Simmons (10.0), it's hard to say "the key to beating CMU is making sure X and Y are limited in scoring and something else" because it's not just X and Y making huge contributions, it's the whole damn team opposing fans have to worry about.

EMU's #dreadful start

Ball State. Then Miami. And then Kent State. Bowling Green on Wednesday. What gives?

I might sound like a homer there, but this was an EMU squad that we thought was the best team in the MAC for about four weeks. It's not just EMU fans like myself scratching our heads over this, it's everybody that follows MAC basketball.

In out-of-conference play, the Eagles averaged 72.5 points per game (holding opponents to 56.9 ppg) and averaged 41.4 rebounds per game. But now in their five games in MAC play, EMU is down to putting up 62.2 ppg, their opponents are now scoring 65.4 ppg, and rebounds have gone down to 34.2 per game. Of course, there's a ton of fluctuation going on with these numbers. Number of games (13 OOC, five MAC), strength of opponents, so on and so forth, but there's an obvious dip in their performance, and it's showing in their record.

"At this point, it's just mental" -every EMU fan I've talked to within the past week or two. There might be something to that, but who's to say?

Michigan MAC schedule

The Broncos, not the Chippewas, not the Eagles, currently hold the Michigan MAC trophy, and have earned the rights to keep it on their terrain the most times with seven, while CMU has only won it twice (2010, 2012) and EMU has never won it for basketball.

Here's the schedule for all Michigan MAC games this year:

Game Date, time
CMU vs. EMU 1/24, 4:30 p.m.
EMU vs. WMU 1/31, noon
CMU vs. WMU 2/7, 2 p.m.
EMU vs. CMU 2/24, 7 p.m.
WMU vs. EMU 2/28, TBA
WMU vs. CMU 3/1, 7 p.m.