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How They Got Here
The Chippewas certainly weren’t favored to be in this position a year ago. Central Michigan was 9-19 last season and Jay Smith’s team was picked near the bottom of the MAC’s West Division. However, that was before the play of junior center Chris Kaman took a huge jump.
Kaman, a very talented 7-footer, went from being an 11-point per game player to the best player in the MAC. That became evident early in the season when Kaman dropped 30 points and 21 rebounds on Michigan in a 85-78 CMU victory. Behind Kaman, Central Michigan went 7-2 in the non-conference season, losing at both DePaul and Valparaiso.
After losing their MAC opener to Miami (Ohio), the Chippewas became as steady as any team in this ultra-competitive league. Central Michigan put together regular-season winning streaks of six, five and three. The Chippewas never lost more than two consecutive league games and haven’t lost since dropping a one-point game to Akron on Feb. 25.
In the MAC tournament, Central Michigan rolled a very good Northern Illinois team by 18 in the semifinals before beating defeating Kent State, last season’s MAC champ that reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
What We Like
Maybe Central Michigan is a mid-major, but the Chippewas may have the best pure big man in the tournament in Kaman. He averaged 22.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. He reached the 20-point mark 19 times during the season. In the first meeting against Ball State, he scored 43 points. In the second game, he put up 39 points and 22 rebounds.
What We Don’t Like
Do the Chippewas have good enough guard play to make a NCAA Tournament run? For the season, Central Michigan had more turnovers than assists. In CMU’s six losses, it averaged 18.7 turnovers per game, never registering fewer than 16.
jay-z music was playing after the game.