Central Michigan (12-2, 2-1) started the MAC season with two road games before coming home to dismantle the Miami RedHawks. This saturday it will be back to the road to take on perhaps the most consistently strong basketball program in the conference, the Akron Zips (11-5, 2-1).
The Chips started the MAC season strong by beating Toledo on the road before crashing back down to Earth and being blown out by Ball State. CMU recovered quickly by crushing Miami in their next game by a score of 105-77. In that Miami game the Chips absolutely shot the lights out and never gave Miami a chance to compete. Unfortunately for the RedHawks it doesn't matter how well you play: if your opponent makes 19 of 27 3-point attempts, you're going to lose.
The Zips have looked very strong this season, and this will no doubt be the biggest test yet for the Chippewas. Akron started MAC play by absolutely dismantling the defending tournament champs Western Michigan. The Zips were able to dominate the glass against the Broncos and coasted to an easy 20-point victory.
Much like CMU, Akron had a big letdown in their second conference game, losing in blowout fashion to defending regular season champions Toledo. Also just like CMU, Akron recovered in their third game and came away with a big victory over a very good Bowling Green team.
CMU has a very high powered offense that can score a lot of points, but to expect to shoot 70 percent from 3-point range game in and game out is completely unrealistic. What CMU has shown however is that they don't need to be on fire from long range to beat a good team. In their win against Toledo, CMU shot under 30 percent from long range, but they were able to grind out a victory thanks to their defense making big plays when they needed to and not allowing Toledo to have too many second chance points, particularly down the stretch.
Pat Forsythe will be the key to the Zips success against CMU. The 6-foot 11 junior for the Zips will be matched up against freshman Luke Meyer from Central Michigan. Meyer has come in and played very well for Central Michigan and he, along with fellow freshman DaRohn Scott, have brought some much needed size to the CMU program. In the past a decent big man could dominate the Chippewas in the paint, but that is not the case any longer. If Meyer and Scott can contain Forsythe, CMU has a real shot a pulling off the minor upset.
Tipoff is Saturday at 7pm in Rhodes Arena.