Chippewa women tabbed as No. 2 seed in MAC Tournament
CMU will face NIU again in quarterfinal
CMU's women's basketball season will continue in Cleveland.
The Chippewas, after finishing 15-8 overall and 13-6 in Mid-American Conference play, qualified as the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which is set to begin March 10 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.
After earning a 74-68 win over Northern Illinois on March 6, the Chippewas will rematch against the Huskies -- the No. 7 seed -- in the third game of the day, the MAC announced on March 6.
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.
If CMU gets through the COVID-19 testing and has the required eight players to compete -- the team played with eight on March 6 -- then the Chippewas return to the site of a quarterfinal loss to Toledo last year after winning the regular season championship.
"This whole offseason, I was listening to a lot of different coaches talk how to prepare your team for March to make sure we have legs," said coach Heather Oesterle. "Last year, we lost three out of our last four games. I don't think we were playing our best basketball in March. We wrapped up the championship and relaxed.
"I like the way we're playing right now, better than I did last year."
REGULAR SEASON FLASHBACK
CMU's season started with a road loss to No. 25 Michigan in a game the Chippewas kept close throughout, but the Wolverines pulled away late.
From there, the Chippewas won three straight home games -- against Western Michigan, Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) -- before losing a close game to Michigan State in East Lansing.
The Chippewas went on a four-game winning streak before dropping three in a row -- a 31-point loss to NIU in DeKalb the notable of the three.
After losing to Eastern Michigan at home to cap the losing streak, CMU won six-of-seven including a three-point road win at Western Michigan.
CMU then dropped two games -- one at Bowling Green then at home to Toledo -- before the team's first postponement due to COVID-19 issues within the program on Feb. 27 at EMU.
The Chippewas then ended the season with a double-overtime victory at Ball State before the come-from-behind victory against NIU on Senior Day.
After the win over NIU, Oesterle said that winning in March is finding a way to grind out wins in tough situations. She added the Chippewas have found confidence in winning tough games -- especially the wins over Ball State and NIU.
"As soon as we get clicking again, we can do some damage in Cleveland," Oesterle said. "But it's one game at a time, making sure we're hungrier than the other team."
Bowling Green, the regular season champion, will take the No. 1 seed in Cleveland and face off against No. 8-seeded EMU in the first game on March 10.
No. 4 Buffalo will take on No. 5 Kent State in the second game of the day.
CMU and NIU battle in the third game of the day before No. 3 Ohio and No. 6 Ball State round out the first day of play.
The tournament will be begin March 10 with the quarterfinals. The semifinals are scheduled for the first session of March 12 before the championships is slated for 11 a.m. on March 13.
Here are the quarterfinal matchups for the MAC Tournament:
No. 1 Bowling Green
No. 8 Eastern Michigan
No. 4 Buffalo
No. 5 Kent State
(approx. 30 minutes after BGSU-EMU is complete)
No. 2 Central Michigan
No. 7 Northern Illinois
(approx. 30 minutes after UB-KSU is complete)
No. 3 Ohio
No. 6 Ball State
(approx. 30 minutes after CMU-NIU is complete)