The Eastern Michigan Eagles accepted an invitation to play in the CIT (CollegeInsider.com Tournament). They will be playing the Purple Eagles of Niagara at the Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan on March 14, 2018 at 7:00 P.M. This is the first time since 2015 that the Eagles have appeared in the post season and their second appearance in the CIT. In 2015, the Eagles lost to Louisiana Monroe in the CBI. In 2014, the Eagles defeated Norfolk State and then lost to Columbia in the CIT. The Eagles faced the Purple Eagles once before in 1970 where the Eagles lost by a score of 91-63.
The Niagara Purple Eagles play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). They had an overall record of 19-13 with a 12-6 record in the MAAC. The Purple Eagles lost in the Quarterfinals of their Conference Championship against Fairfield by a score of 90-77.
Eastern Michigan has an overall record of 21-12 with an 11-7 record in the MAC. They looked like they were the hot team going into the MAC tournament by finishing the season with a six game win streak. They dispatched the Akron Zips in the quarterfinals but lost to the Rockets in the semi-finals with a last second three pointer on the part of the Rockets.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles are led in scoring by Elijah Minnie who averages 16.8 points per game. He is closely followed by Paul Jackson with 15.2 points per game and after that James Thompson IV with 14.7 points per game. Of special note would be Tim Bond who just set the Eastern Michigan record for steals. The Eagles average 71.6 points per game with a 46.7% field goal percentage. They allow an average of 66.8 points per game. They get an average of 12.8 turnovers per game.
The Niagara Purple Eagles are led in scoring by Kahlil Dukes with 21.1 points per game. He is followed by Matt Scott with 19.5 points per game. They average 83.8 points per game while allowing 83.9 points per game. The Purple Eagles average about 44.8% from the field. On average, they get 11.3 turnovers per game.
I think this game is going to come down to the overwhelming defense of the Eagles. There were a couple games where they were able to overcome huge deficits by making a nice defensive stand. Eastern Michigan is able to get a ton of blocks per game and more often than not they turn those blocks into points for themselves. So I am going to make a prediction that Eastern Michigan will be able to hold Niagara to much under their average scoring per game. With that, I think Eastern Michigan will be able to move on.
If you want to watch the game, you can go to WatchCIT.com for a streaming version. I do not think there is any normal TV options. If you would rather listen to the game, if you are in the area you can tune into 89.1 WEMU or catching it streaming at WEMU.org. You can also of course wander over to the Convocation Center, the game is at 7:00 P.M.
On a side note, while I am happy that Eastern Michigan made the post season, I am not too thrilled of the idea of a pay to play tournament. Given that Ball State, Kent State and Toledo all declined invites and given the financial situation at Eastern Michigan, it seems kind of tin earish that Eastern would go to the CIT. It seems like there would be enough money floating around college basketball in general that the schools shouldn’t have to pay to play to be in a tournament. If something like this isn’t profitable, it shouldn’t be played especially given the financial burdens that many universities are facing. If the crowd size at the last CIT Eastern Michigan hosted is any indication, I’m not sure many fans like the idea either.
That being said, I will still root for my Eagles and I hope plenty of fans will show up for this game. It should be a good one.