CMU always had potential. They had a litany of good nonconference wins, perhaps the best collection in all of the MAC. They just had one too many conference losses which forced them into the quarterfinals instead of the semis. Then they got to work; a 33-point victory over Bowling Green, a second win against Toledo and now this masterpiece over the Zips.
|MAC Women's basketball champoinship||1||2||Total|
|Central Michigan Chippewas||39||47||86|
Before we forget: this was Akron's first time in the MAC women's championship. That's awesome for them. They played their hearts out but they couldn't hold on in the second half; CMU was just hellbent on winning and they outshot them, out-rebounded them and played better defense.
Here's balance for you: six Chippewas scored in double figures:
• Crystal Bradford, limited by foul trouble in the first half, rallied to score 13 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and three steals;
• Jalisa Olive had a scary injury in the second half but returned to action and netted 14 points in 19 minutes;
• Taylor Johnson worked inside for 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals;
• Brandie Baker turned some defense into offense with 14 potions, six rebounds and six assists;
• Niki DiGuilio hucked it up from the wing, scoring 12 points all on 3-pointers (4-for-7);
• Jessica Schroll fouled out in the waning minutes of the game, but before that scored 14 points and had seven rebounds and six assists. (Schroll tide)
To be fair, Akron had five players score 10+ points, most prominently Hanna Luburgh who had 19 points. MAC Player of the Year Rachel Tecca was bottled up pretty well and was limited to 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.
Bradford was named Tournament MVP, a fitting tribute for someone who has averaged 18.6 points, 7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3 blocks in each of the last three days. It's hard to believe she's only a sophomore.
How dangerous is Central Michigan in the NCAA tournament?
Whoever draws them in the first round will have more than a tough test (because we say that all the time), they're going to have a full 60-minute battle. Not only has CMU beaten Toledo twice, they also beat Green Bay (now 28-2) and nearly beat No. 2 Notre Dame. They're probably going to get a 13-seed, maybe a 14, but we'll find out for sure on Monday night.
The only thing CMU really doesn't have much of is height; Jas'Mine Bracey is their only regular taller than 6-feet. When they beat Texas they let their 6'7" center have a field day on them but they guarded everyone else relatively well and forced turnovers.
In terms of an at-large, Toledo is probably on the outside looking in, according to ESPN's bracketology. They probably need Creighton to lose to have a chance, but even if they don't make it then they'll join several good candidates to play in the 64-team WNIT, including Akron, BGSU, Miami and possibly Ball State.