CMU men's hoops eliminated from MAC Tournament
CMU's men's basketball 2020-21 season is over.
After finishing with a 7-16 overall record and 3-13 in the Mid-American Conference, the Chippewas finished 11th in the conference standings and failed to qualify for the conference tournament at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
The MAC announced the bracket after CMU's 79-74 loss to Northern Illinois on March 5 in McGuirk Arena.
After the loss to the Huskies, head coach Keno Davis said he was proud of his team's attitude, adding this year's team may have had the best attitude of the teams he's led.
"If anything, it’s just made me more of a believer that these guys were the right guys to bring into the program not just because of their talent on the court," Davis said. "But because of their character when we faced adversity this year whether if it was the team and not winning like we wanted to or whether it was individuals with injuries or COVID-19.”
According to the MAC contingency plan, if a team that qualified for the tournament was not able to participate, one of the teams in the bottom four would have taken the No. 8 seed, moving the remaining seeds up.
CMU needed two teams -- either two teams already qualified or one qualified team and Western Michigan -- to drop out to get a spot in the tournament.
CMU started the season with three consecutive losses -- including a 19-point loss to Division II Flagler on Dec. 2 -- before winning three straight -- the highlight a 84-79 win over Valparaiso on Dec. 12 in McGuirk Arena.
The Chippewas opened the MAC season with a 15-point loss at Western Michigan before defeating Olivet at home and Eastern Michigan on the road, both in blowout fashion.
From there, starting with back-to-back games against Bowling Green on Jan. 5 and 9, CMU lost eight-of-nine games -- the lone win an 11-point triumph over EMU on Jan. 16.
After a five-game losing streak, the Chippewas had four games -- at Northern Illinois, home games against Ball State and Buffalo and at Ohio -- postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chippewas were shorthanded, down to nine players for most games, coming off the 17-day pause. After the pause, CMU dropped three games -- home against Miami (Ohio), at Buffalo and at Ball State -- to push their losing streak to eight games.
CMU ended the campaign with a pair of polar-opposite home games. The first on March 2 against Toledo, coming back from a 16-point deficit against the Rockets, the eventual MAC champions. The second on March 5 against NIU, the Chippewas fell behind by as many as 16 early in the second half but fell 79-74.
“This (team) went from a group that was trying to find itself early in the year to a group at the end that really cared about winning, cared about their teammates and cared about everyone’s health," Davis said. "Those are the type of things I don’t take lightly or take for granted."
Toledo will serve as the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament and will face No. 8-seeded Ball State at 11 a.m. on March 11 in Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Buffalo, Akron and Kent State round out the top four seeds. The Bulls face No. 7 Miami (Ohio), the Zips play No. 6 Bowling Green and the Golden Flashes face off against No. 5 Ohio.
None of the three Michigan MAC teams -- Central, Eastern and Western -- qualified for the tournament. WMU finished ninth at 4-12 while EMU finished 10th at 3-11.
The men's tournament begins on March 11, with the semifinals held on March 12 and the championship on March 13.
Here are the March 11 quarterfinal matchups for the MAC Tournament with seeds.
No. 1 Toledo
No. 8 Ball State
No. 5 Ohio
No. 4 Kent State
(approx. 30 minutes after Toledo-Ball State ends)
No. 2 Buffalo
No. 7 Miami (Ohio)
(approx. 30 minutes after Kent State-Ohio ends)
No. 3 Akron
No. 6 Bowling Green
(approx. 30 minutes after Buffalo-Miami ends)