On Dec. 7, 1988, the men’s basketball team was dealt a 46-point defeat by second-ranked Michigan at Crisler Arena.
It was at least a prettier loss for Central Michigan in its first game against a top-five opponent in 24 years when the Chippewas lost 88-73 to the again No. 2 Wolverines who was without starting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a team that’s better,” head coach Keno Davis said. “You didn’t see them at full-strength, but they got so many different weapons to be able to beat you. I think they’re very worthy of their ranking, second in the country. And I think you can make an argument for No. 1.”
Sophomore guard Trey Burke, a Player of the Year candidate, had 22 points and 11 assists for the night, started the game off for U of M.
With no fluidity from the offense, he took a pass and launched a three that gave the Wolverines a 3-0 lead and a sign for CMU on how difficult it was going to stop the national title contenders.
“He’s just a good floor general,” senior guard Kyle Randall said. “He sets up his guys, but he can also knock down shots and get his own, so he just a good all-around player.”
The Chippewas never captured the lead in the game and only forced the Wolverines into three turnovers.
Michigan did not show the flash of a top-five team though, using pick-and-rolls, mid-range jumpers and setting at least one charge on defense.
CMU is 0-5 all-time against top-five teams, but Davis said there is much to take from games against high-caliber teams.
“This was a great experience for them,” he said. “The next time we have a hostile crowd, against a ranked team, maybe we’ll have a better comfort level.”
Previous to its loss against a top-five team in No. 2 Michigan in 1988, it lost to another second-ranked Michigan team, 82-61, in 1985.
The game in 1985 was similar to Saturday’s game, regarding the margin of the loss, than the game in the 1988-89 season for many reasons including offensive rebounds.
Senior guard Finis Craddock, at six-foot-one, grabbed the most unlikely of the 11 offensive rebounds the Chippewas tallied, at the start of the game, among Michigan players that stood taller, he snagged the board and finished with the bucket.
“You got to take some positives away,” Davis said. “You’ve got to come out of this game and say you out-rebounded the No. 2 team in the country, at their place, by nine, without our starting center.”
They also shot 47.5 percent from the field, their fifth-best field goal percentage this season.