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2017-18 MAC Men’s Basketball Preview: Central Michigan Chippewas

A lot is returning, a lot was lost

NCAA Basketball: Central Michigan at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

The Central Michigan Chippewas return 3 starters from last season’s squad that finished the season 16-16. They also return David DiLeo, who averaged 8.5 points and 5 rebounds per game. However, the two starters they lost were huge, at least on the stat sheet. Braylon Rayson averaged 21.2 points and 4.4 rebounds a game, while Marcus Keene led the nation in scoring at 30 points per game and also threw in 4.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

While the duo of Keene and Rayson was very enjoyable to watch, I am not sure that their loss will have a huge effect on the overall team record. The starting front court returns, as does top reserve David DiLeo. At times this unit showed promise. However, as the season wore on, DiLeo and Luke Meyer saw less and less double digit scoring games. As the losses piled up toward the end of the season, the team started to look discombobulated and struggled with it’s identity, other than watching the Keene and Rayson show. With the loss of those two players, the front court will have to step up, and based on the results earlier in 2016, it’s quite possible they are up to the challenge. Along with DiLeo and Meyer, the Chippewas return Cecil Williams who shot 44% from beyond the arch while averaging 8 points a game. Thrown into the mix is 6’9 freshman A.J. Bullard, a threat from beyond the arch and a fit for the Keno Davis style of play.

As for the back court, Shawn Roundtree, a JC transfer, was compared to Chris Fowler by Keno Davis, according to the team’s prospectus. That might be exactly what this teams needs, a distributor of the basketball. Gavin Peppers, another transfer, shot 37% from beyond the arch at Laramie CC. Freshman Matt Beachler hit 9 threes in a game in high school, and 195 on his career.

Considering the non-conference schedule isn’t particularly difficult outside of a few contests, it might be just what the doctor ordered. It will allow the new back court to figure out how to get the ball into the hands of the experienced front court in their spots. I think we will see more continuity with this team compared to last year’s squad, which finished the season on an 8 game losing streak.