OPINION: Women's basketball will top Buffalo for MAC title in Cleveland
Already the regular season Mid-American Conference West Division Champions, Central Michigan women's basketball has secured a first round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Chippewas probably didn't need a bye anyway.
On March 7, head coach Sue Guevara will bring her team to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio looking to win their first MAC Tournament since 2013.
The Chippewas (23-4, 15-1 MAC) currently are first place in the MAC, with only one team, the University at Buffalo (23-4, 14-2 MAC), challenging the Chippewas for the No. 1 seed.
Buffalo may be CMU's toughest challenge in the MAC Tournament, having been the only team to beat CMU in the regular season. WMU came close, but Presley Hudson just ushered a blowout with a game-high 31 points on Feb. 23 in Kalamazoo.
Here is a preview of what the Chippewas MAC tournament path may be:
As the No. 1 seed, CMU would face the tournament’s No. 8 or No. 9 seed, which will likely become Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois, respectively.
CMU beat EMU by 23 points in Ypsilanti earlier this season and let off of EMU with a 13-point victory in McGuirk Arena in the second game.
The Chippewas escaped DeKalb, Illinois with an 81-78 victory over NIU in January, but handled the Huskies with ease at home with a 91-77 win on Feb. 21.
Regardless of the opponent, CMU has proved with two previous wins over both teams that it should advance to the tournament semifinals with a convincing quarterfinal win.
The Chippewas would then likely face Miami (Ohio) or Ohio. In its lone matchup with Miami this season, CMU dominated the RedHawks in Oxford, 84-66.
CMU also dominated Ohio in Mt. Pleasant, 82-58. The Bobcats competed with the Chippewas throughout in Athens, but it still resulted in a 74-72 victory for CMU.
Neither Miami nor Ohio average more than 70 points per game this season, and the Chippewas can outscore anybody. The team averages 83.8 points per game.
It will all come down to the championship game on Saturday, March 10.
I believe Buffalo will face CMU in the final. In their first matchup this season, CMU defeated the Bulls, 86-79, in Mount Pleasant. Two weeks later, UB handed the Chippewas their first MAC loss of the season, 85-82, in Buffalo.
Guevara refers to the Bulls as the Chippewas' "evil twin” because of the similarities each team holds. Both CMU and Buffalo has a scoring margin more than +11 and grab more than 42 rebounds per game.
Despite being the only team to defeat CMU in the MAC this season, I believe CMU will defeat Buffalo in the MAC Championship. Guevara has never put together a starting lineup as lethal as this one, so this is the year to win it all.
CMU led the first game against Buffalo on Jan. 31 for all but 16 seconds — when the game was tied.
On Feb. 14, the Chippewas fell at Buffalo, 85-82. CMU only shot 26.1 percent from 3-point range, compared to their season average of 38.7 percent.
CMU had a chance to tie the loss against Buffalo, despite its shooting struggles. However, junior forward Reyna Frost missed a game-tying contested 3-pointer on the final shot.
My championship prediction: Central Michigan 85, Buffalo 75.