After a disappointing loss at home against Northern Illinois, men’s basketball has a chance to redeem itself Saturday when rival Western Michigan visits McGuirk Arena.
In a division that has a log jam for second place, with four teams sitting at 2-3 in the Mid-American Conference West, the Broncos are 3-2 in MAC play and sitting atop the division.
With that being said, this is CMU versus WMU, and the records do not matter when a rivalry game happens.
“Everybody knows about this rivalry,” said senior guard Finis Craddock. “I want this win just as bad as everybody else does, and all we have to do is play hard.”
The Broncos come in with a strong defense led by junior center Shayne Whittington, who is second in the MAC in rebounds, with 8.3 per game, and fifth in blocked shots, with 1.8 per game.
As a team, WMU is second in points allowed, at 62.3 per game, and it is the best rebounding team in the MAC.
It is on a three-game winning streak with impressive wins against Toledo (79-56), the Huskies (71-34) and a tight 63-59 win against Eastern Michigan. All three of those wins came against teams who have beaten the Chippewas this season.
“One thing I’ve liked, for the most part, is our intensity each night,” said head coach Keno Davis. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Michigan or Michigan-Dearborn, our intensity is the same each night.”
Perhaps a loss against NIU can be easily forgotten with the focus now on the Broncos. But Davis made it known that it doesn’t matter who his team plays, you’ll see the same CMU team.
“I don’t think it matters if it was Western or Northern or Southern,” Davis said. “Our guys enjoy going out and playing each night.”
Craddock mentioned how badly he wants this win, maybe more than most on the team, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know.
Of the 14 guys on the Chippewas roster, six are freshmen, and senior guard Kyle Randall is a transfer who has never played in the rivalry before. So half of the team has never played WMU.
“We have so many young guys that they don’t recognize as much of the rivalry and the intensity that brings,” Davis said. “Sometimes you get better from the losses more than you do the wins. I expect us to come in and have some spirited practices while trying to save our legs as best as possible as we get ready for a tough opponent in Western Michigan.”
CMU won in a heated 76-70 game where there was a near brawl and lost in Kalamazoo, 64-61.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Saturday following the women’s game against Akron at 2 p.m.