CMU men's basketball takes on Toledo in first round of MAC tournament

CMU men’s basketball head coach Tony Barbee thanks the crowd for their support in the team’s win against Western, Thursday, Feb. 3, in McGuirk Arena.

Central Michigan has fought to secure its spot in the top eight of the Mid-American Conference for the past month. 

The Chippewas now sit at the No. 8 seed in the MAC tournament and are set to play the No. 1 seed Toledo at 11 a.m. Thursday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The game can be streamed on ESPN+. 

For the third time this season, the Chippewas and the Rockets will go head-to-head. In the two previous meetings the Rockets have come out on top both times. 

In the most recent meeting, less than a month ago, the Chippewas held their own against the top team, but it ended in a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds 

This is head coach Tony Barbee and his coaching staff's first year at CMU. The Chippewas are the only team in the tournament that are led by a first-year head coach. This is only the second time in program history that a first-year head coach coached their team to the tournament. 

“What matters now is everybody’s starting 0-0. We’ve proven that we can play with the best teams in this league and now we’ve got to prove we can beat them if we’re going to do something special,” Barbee said.

The Chippewas are headed into the matchup with freshman point guard Kevin Miller who leads the team in averaging 13.1 points per-game. He is ranked third in the MAC with 4.5 assists per-game. 

Miller was recently announced with a placement on the MAC All-freshman team and was an All-MAC team honorable mention.

Cameron Healy is a menace from the three-point line when he gets on his roll. Healy averages 11.7 points per game for the Chippewas. Healy is ranked 11th in the MAC in 3-point field goal percentage. Healy scored a team high of 19 points last time the Chippewas and the Rockets met.  

The Rockets are coming into the tournament on a five-game winning streak and a regular season MAC title for the second year in a row.

Sophomore guard Ryan Rollins ranks third in the MAC with a team high of 19.2 points per game. JT Shumate is a powerhouse for the Rockets as he averages 15.7 points per-game. Last time these teams played Shumate had a season-high of 29 points.