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2015 CIT preview: 3 things you should know about the Cleveland State Vikings

WMU opens postseason play tonight against Cleveland State

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan hosts Cleveland State tonight at University Arena in the Tournament - better known as the CIT. The most recent meeting between the two schools was in 1974 and resulted in a WMU victory. Here are a couple of things you should know about the Vikings:

Meet The Vikings

Cleveland State Vikings
Head Coach: Gary Waters
Conference: Horizon League
Mascot: Magnus
Record: 18 - 14
Common Opponents: Bowling Green (Loss 67-57); Oakland (Split)
Vikings in the NBA: Norris Cole

Head coach Gary Waters has MAC ties

Cleveland State Vikings' head coach Gary Waters is no stranger to the Mid-American Conference or the state of Michigan for that matter. Hailing from Detroit, Waters played at Ferris State University from 1972-1974 where he is a member of the Hall of Fame. Immediately following his playing career Waters joined on as an assistant coach at Ferris State from 1974-1989.

After Ferris State Waters began his journey in MAC country as an assistant at Eastern Michigan where he stayed until 1996 before accepting his first head coaching job at Kent State. While at Kent State, Waters led the Golden Flashes to two MAC tournament championships and as many NCAA appearances - including a trip to the second round in 2001. While the conference has changed a lot in the last decade, Gary Waters is certainly no stranger.

Trey Lewis and Anton Grady are stars

Trey Lewis, a junior guard from Garfield Heights, Ohio, is the Vikings' leading scorer at nearly 17 points per game and is a first team All-Horizon League selection. He has scored in double figures in each of the team's last ten games.

Lewis comes into Wednesday's contest sporting two 30-point games on his resume, and among those outbursts come nine more 20 point performances - including a 24 point and five rebound effort against the NCAA tournament bound Louisville Cardinals. He also chipped in 18 against one of the nation's leading defensive teams in the Virginia Cavaliers.

As if Lewis weren't enough to handle for the Broncos, his fellow first-team all Horizon League forward Anton Grady packs a punch as well. Grady has posted a double double in ten of the Vikings' last 14 games including a stretch of four in a row in mid-February. Grady, also a junior, added an all-Horizon League Defensive Team award to his resume this season. The Broncos notably struggle cleaning up the glass, and while Grady doesn't stretch tall at 6-foot-8, he will certainly pose a threat to the Bronco front court.

History as Cinderella

If you are ever in a heated trivia showdown and the question happens to be, "Which school was the first 14 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament?" thanks to Hustle Belt, you can count yourself a winner. Cleveland State is the answer, and the Vikings became the first 14 to win two games in the tournament in 1986. In the first round the Vikings dispatched the Bob Knight led Indiana Hoosiers followed by a victory over the 6-seed, St. Joseph's. The Vikings' magical run was only halted by big, bad David Robinson and Navy.

The upsets didn't die with the 80s for Cleveland State. In most recent memory, the Vikings upset the fourth-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament. Despite being a 13 seed, the Vikings pummeled the Deacons from Tobacco Road 84-69. The upsets ended with Wake Forest in 2009 but didn't begin there. Earlier in the season, Cleveland State upset then ranked Syracuse followed by an upset of Butler in the Horizon League Championship Game. All three of those teams were ranked inside the top 25.

How to take in the CIT

*All games will be streamed live via SideArm Sports


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