It's been a heck of a start for Keno Davis and the Central Michigan Chippewas in year one. The team is 7-5 and is off to their best start in almost a decade.
But the road gets a lot tougher on Saturday, as CMU will undoubtedly face their toughest test of the season when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 2 ranked Michigan.
The last time these two teams met, the Chippewas upset Michigan 78-67 in the 2007-08 season. This Wolverine squad will obviously be more talented, and CMU will need to play the game of their lives to keep it close.
Below are the ChippewaCountry staff predictions for tomorrow's game.
Corey Dull, Staff WriterI'll keep this short and simple. This game will be the toughest game that Central Michigan will play all year. Without question. CMU will likely be without Saylor, so they will need to have EVERYONE crash the glass. I'm really interested to see the matchup at the point guard position. Chris Fowler might be a true freshman, but he doesn't back down to anybody, including All-American Trey Burke. This game will be a good learning tool and it will be a chance for us to really see what this Chippewa team is all about.
Prediction: Michigan 84, Central Michigan 52
Jeff Horodeczny, Staff WriterThe Chippewas finish the non-conference slate this Saturday as they head to Ann Arbor to face the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines. Michigan is looking to finish their non-conference schedule without a loss. The Wolverines are led by sophomore point guard Trey Burke. He is leading the team in scoring, with an average of 17.4 ppg, and is arguably the top point guard in the country. It will be interesting to watch a potential Burke-Randall matchup, as Kyle Randall has been on a hot streak, scoring 27 against Nebraska and 12 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
I expect the Wolverines to pound it inside to 6-foot-8 Jordan Morgan and 6-foot-10 Mitch McGary, who give UM a distinct size advantage. The Chippewas may go to a zone to try to slow the Wolverines in the post, but Michigan can also shoot the three-point shot, especially freshman Nik Stauskas, who is shooting over 55 percent beyond the arc. It will be nearly impossible for CMU to win this game with the talent that Michigan has and the size advantage that they have. It will be a good experience for the younger Chippewa players, as they will be playing in a sold out Crisler Center. Let's hope for an injury free game, so CMU can have a full roster going into MAC play, with the possible return of big man Zach Saylor. It will also be interesting to see if CMU can keep it closer than EMU and WMU did earlier this season, as they both lost by over 30 points.
Prediction: Michigan 90, Central Michigan 65
Steve Livingston, PublisherI hit most of the important points in my preview yesterday, but let's recap. Michigan is really good. Central Michigan has proven to be a feisty squad this season. They have been in almost every game and have knocked a couple teams that they were not supposed to beat. But it would take a perfect game and a historic off night from the Wolverines for the Chippewas to pull off the upset. Let's put it this way: if CMU won, it would be the biggest upset in college basketball in years. That has nothing to do with "fanhood" or partisanship, it is just the facts. Even my fellow publisher and lifelong Chippewa fan Tyler Parsons can admit that. A win for CMU would be the biggest in almost a decade. It would set the course for Keno Davis and the Chippewas to have a pretty good season. I think that CMU hangs around for a half because they shoot a lot of threes and they are a group of fighters. They have already performed above expectations this season and the future is bright for this program. But in Ann Arbor, the future has already arrived for the Wolverines.
Prediction: Michigan 85, Central Michigan 61
Tyler Parsons, PublisherCall it being a homer, call it being a CMU alumni, heck call it a jab at fellow publisher and self-described Michigan fan Steve Livingston. But you bet I'm taking Central Michigan to pull off the upset of the year in this one.
Would I bet on it? Not a chance. But call it a hunch that CMU manages to keep this one close until the end, and possibly pull off the upset. For that to happen, the Chippewas will need to be on fire from the three point line, and the Wolverines need to have an off night.
Analyzing the game, this is a real tough matchup for CMU though. Everything that CMU does will, Michigan pretty much does it better and with bigger athletes. There will be a lot of three pointers shot in this game and expect the tempo to be high paced. Perhaps one saving grace is that forward Jon Horford will not play, taking one big man that CMU would struggle to matchup with out of the picture.
But crazier things have happened, and the Chippewas really have no pressure with this game. Like the Iowa game to start the season, the expectations are low and this is simply a measuring stick. Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan have both been sacrificed to the Wolverines in blowouts this year, but I don't expect that to happen to CMU. Call it crazy, but the Chippewas are pulling off a Christmas miracle a few days late.
Prediction: Central Michigan 78, Michigan 77
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