OPINION: Women's basketball can win MAC title, make noise in NCAA Tournament

Anthony Cook mug.

Something special is brewing with the 2017-18 Central Michigan Women's basketball team.

At this point, that feeling is almost palpable.

You can feel it with every deep three-pointer Presley Hudson drains with ease. You can see it each time Tinara Moore dominates the paint with block after block.

Against Western Michigan on Jan. 27, guard Cassie Breen hit a go-ahead three in the final minute that would seal the victory against their in-state rival. 

McGuirk went wild. 

At a perfect 9-0 in the Mid-American Conference and 17-3 overall, CMU is off to their best conference start since the 2013-14 season when the Chippewas opened 12-0.

CMU can win the conference outright for the second straight year, and barring any first round conference tournament slip ups, has a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tournament for the first time since Crystal Bradford led them there in 2013. 

It isn't difficult to see why the Chippewas have run through the MAC thus far. 

Not only is their scoring offense the best in the conference, but also ranked No. 12 nationally with 82.8 points per game. 

CMU leads the MAC by hitting 45.5 percent of its field goal.

Most notably, CMU is the third best free-throw shooting team in the entire country, hitting 81.5 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. 

Their starting five all averages double-digits and not a single one of them averages less than 28 minutes played per game. 

While that looks good on the surface, CMU has trouble finding that same kind of productivity off the bench. 

Not a single bench player averages more than 3.1 points per game and Kyra Bussel and Maddy Waters are the only players off the bench averaging over 10 minutes per game. 

That doesn't provide much of a cushion for when starters get into foul trouble.

However, that hasn't seemed to stop them yet. 

Some of CMU's stars have gotten national recognition.

Forward Reyna Frost ranks No. 8 in the nation with 12.3 rebounds per game. Frost's presence in the post gives CMU frequent second-chance point opportunities.

Hudson has the fifth best free-throw shooting percentage in NCAA (92.6) and is tied for 11th in most three-pointers made (75). Both Hudson and Breen are ranked 16th and 33rd nationally for three-point percentage with 44.6 and 42.3 percent respectively. 

CMU should no longer be seen as only elite in the MAC. They deserve to be respected on a national scale, as well.