Men’s basketball can secure playoff home game with win against WMU
In the final seconds on Feb. 20, Central Michigan sophomore guard Kevin McKay drove to the basket and came up short, giving Western Michigan an 83-81 overtime victory at University Arena.
Now, the Broncos (17-13, 9-8 Mid-American Conference) make their way to Riepma Arena at Northwood University for a rematch against the Chippewas (17-13, 6-11 MAC), who are hungry for a rivalry win.
“There’s always extra meaning when you play an in-state game and your rival in Western Michigan,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “Also, for the seniors, it’s their last home game and most likely last game with Western Michigan.”
The game is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on March 3. The contest is closed to the public.
The game is being played at Northwood University due to a shooting that took place on March 2.
James Eric Davis Jr., the shooter, was caught and put in custody just after midnight on March 3. Check cm-life for more coverage of the shooting.
Since the road loss to the Broncos, CMU took a defeat against Toledo but bounced back for a 24-point win over Ball State on Feb. 27 at McGuirk Arena.
“Not only winning but the fashion we did it in,” said CMU sophomore forward David DiLeo. “Our shots started falling and we held a great offensive team to just 51 points. It was great for momentum.”
The Chippewas have four players scoring in double figures in junior guard Shawn Roundtree Jr., senior forward Cecil Williams, sophomore guard Kevin McKay and DiLeo.
Williams leads the team with 15.0 points per game, followed by Roundtree (14.8), McKay (12.0) and DiLeo (11.7). Senior forward Luke Meyer averages 9.1 points and 5.0 rebounds. He knocks down 41.4 percent of shots from the 3-point line.
Along with scoring, DiLeo, McKay and Williams are key rebounders for CMU, registering 6.8, 6.7 and 6.3 rebounds per game, respectively. Roundtree leads the team with 3.8 assists per game.
CMU is ranked second in the nation in free throw conversion percentage. The Chippewas have made 470-of-586 from the free throw line this season, which is good for 80.2 percent. William & Mary holds the top spot in the NCAA Division I, converting 80.9 percent of the time.
Back on Feb. 20, senior guard Thomas Wilder called the shots for WMU in the triumph against CMU, logging 11 of his 22 points in overtime. He also finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“He’s a smart player,” Roundtree said. “When it came to overtime, he did a great job of leading his team to victory and making plays.”
Along with Wilder, an NBA prospect, the Broncos found success in sophomore forward Brandon Johnson, who posted 13 points, 12 rebounds and one steal against CMU.
On the season, Wilder averages 18.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals. Junior guard Josh Davis records 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
WMU understands the seriousness of the in-state rivalry against the Chippewas and plans to bring a plethora energy to Mount Pleasant.
“It’s Central (versus) Western,” said WMU head coach Steve Hawkins. “It doesn’t matter whether the chess teams play.”
In the NCAA Division I RPI, WMU is ranked No. 152 of 351 programs. CMU sits in the No. 180 position.
Of all the MAC teams, Buffalo is at the top of the RPI in the MAC at No. 35. The Bulls are 22-8 in the 2017-18 season and 14-3 in conference play.
The Chippewas and Broncos faced off twice in the 2016-17 season. On Feb. 3, CMU earned a victory, 86-82, on a contested 3-pointer by guard Marcus Keene with five seconds left.
When WMU hosted the game one month later, March 3, the Broncos stole an eight-point win in Kalamazoo.
In CMU’s overtime defeat earlier this year, Roundtree and McKay had 18 points apiece, while McKay also pulled down 11 rebounds.
“We are playing to get better so we can have a great showing in the conference tournament,” Davis said. “We are also playing for seeding. I know we have our guys attention and they are looking forward to the game.”