Central Michigan has accepted a bid for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The first opponent for the Chips is the UT-Martin Skyhawks. This is Central Michigan's first home postseason game since the 1970 season. This marks the first time in program history that the Chips have appeared in back-to-back Division 1 postseason tournaments. We spoke to our own Kaleb Carter, who also helps out with Mid-Major Madness to find out more about the Chips first round foe.
1. What has been the narrative of this season for UTM? Dominance all year? Getting hot of late? Slow start that they recovered from?
The narrative has been wonky, that's for sure. Before the season began UTM was supposed to be a competitor as some folks really believed Coach Heath Schroyer would have this team rearing to go and compete for an OVC championship.
An early skid showed that UTM did not seem destined for greatness, and one CBB writer I particularly appreciate suggested that the Skyhawks had one of the worst halfcourt offenses he had seen this season.
Even after a slow start in the OVC, the 'hawks caught THE FEVER (whatever that means) at the right time and finished the regular season schedule on quite a run, winning eight of its last 9 games of the regular season (and that was immediately after a four-game losing streak). The Skyhawks were the unfortunate squad that had to face the scalding Austin Peay Governors in the OVC championship, and fell.
2. What are two strengths of this UT-Martin team?
The Skyhawks aren't overly reliant on any particular player. Some people call lack of star-power a weakness but I'm not one of them. The Skyhawks had four players average double digits and had a fifth average 8.1 per game. The equal distribution of offense (with Twymond Howard being the best of the bunch) is a good thing for UTM.
Another strength isn't something that separates UTM from many teams, but the SkyHawks are fairly good at stopping the 3-point ball, and were good enough to be third in the OVC in that category this season. #3MU probably doesn't like that fact.
3. What are two weaknesses?
UTM has found itself prone to lapses at many points in the season. Even after its eight-game win streak, the Skyhawks still found a way to lose by 24 to a none-too-impressive Murray State squad. UTM lost to the likes of Bethune-Cookman, FIU, UMKC, and Southeast Missouri State. None of those teams are too good.
Certain players on this team are prone to going cold. That's a problem. You'd like to think this is a balanced bunch, but poor games from the likes of OVC 6th man of the year Jacolby Mobley have hurt.
4. Who's one under the radar contributor for UT-Martin?
Much of this group outside of guys like Mobley and Twymond Howard. Myles Taylor improved and ended up scoring 13.5 ppg in OVC-play. Might want to watch out for his ability to score as he shoots at a 65 percent clip.
5. What is your final prediction for the contest?
I think UTM is probably a bit more driven to win a game like this, and I think the Shyhawks will shut the chips down from beyond the arc. Could be a sad end to the careers of guys like Chris Fowler and John Simons. Hope a game with two solid teams like this can provide both squads with a fun challenge. I say UTM wins by 8 or 9.
The game will be played on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., and can be seen on live stream on Sidearm Sports.
Comment your thoughts and predictions below!