Chippewa Men Gear Up For Top Seed

Coach Keno Davis will send his CMU men's basketball team out against Buffalo, the No. 1 seed, in a MAC Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday (noon) at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Coach Keno Davis will send his CMU men's basketball team out against Buffalo, the No. 1 seed, in a MAC Tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday (noon) at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
March 7, 2018
No. 8 Central Michigan vs.
No. 1 Buffalo
19-13 23-8
Thursday, March 8 | Noon
Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, Ohio
Game Day Links
Live Stats: SIDEARM
Game Notes: Central Michigan | Buffalo
Connect with CMU Men's Basketball
Andy Sneddon,

CLEVELAND – Pressure? Zero.

Expectations? Of course.

It hasn’t been a straight line for the Central Michigan men’s basketball team from the start of the season to Quicken Loans Arena and the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

For most teams, it rarely is a simple narrative as each navigates the requisite ups and downs in any given season.

CMU (19-13) will play top-seeded Buffalo (23-8), the regular-season champion, on Thursday (noon) in a quarterfinal game. The Chippewas are the eighth seed and reached Cleveland with an 81-77 overtime win over Bowling Green on Monday.

It was CMU’s third consecutive win and a sign, coach Keno Davis said, that things are falling in to place for the Chippewas.

“We were talking a few weeks ago that if we could get to Cleveland, that we really believe that we could make some noise,” Davis said.

The Chippewas’ win streak started with a 24-point home win over Ball State in perhaps CMU’s most convincing MAC win of the season. They followed with a 13-point victory over rival Western Michigan. CMU had lost on the road to both the Cardinals and the Broncos earlier this season.

CMU put together its best back-to-back performances of the season in those wins over Ball State and Western. The victory over Bowling Green on Tuesday was a grind-it-out affair.

“The team always believed that we could play with and beat anyone in the league,” Davis said. “We’re playing our best basketball at the end of the year, which is what every team wants to do.

“And we’re going to find out soon if that’s good enough.”

Buffalo is ranked 13th in the Mid-Major poll and it is the MAC’s top-scoring team (85.2 percent). The Bulls have won five of their last six games, capped by a 100-70 victory over Bowling Green in their regular-season finale.

“(Buffalo) is the best team in our league,” Davis said. “Not only by seeding but that’s been the consensus throughout the year, that they’re the most talented. They’re very deserving of the 1 seed.

“They’re a deep team, as good as fast-breaking, up-tempo team as we’ve played against this year – maybe the last two, three years. They’re that good.”

One key to the Chippewas’ late-season surge has been energy. Davis gave his team a couple of days off after a 13-point loss at Toledo on Feb. 23. The Chippewas appeared to play with more energy in the ensuing wins over Ball State, Western and Bowling Green.

That, and the season-long evolution, has helped put the Chippewas where they are now.

“We talked early in the season that it was going to be a learning year, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a great year, but we had to get better,” Davis said. “We had to get better through experience. We didn’t point fingers, we just tried to get better.”

No Chippewa was named to any of the All-MAC teams and CMU was shut out of the league’s individual awards as well.

The Chippewas and Bulls last met in the MAC Tournament in 2015, when Buffalo knocked off the top-seeded Chippewas, 89-84, in the title game.

Buffalo topped the Chippewas, 88-82, in the teams’ lone meeting during the regular season. CMU trailed by 18 points, 72-54, with under seven minutes to play, and then cut its deficit to four, 86-82, with 10 seconds left.

Cecil Williams scored 23 points to lead the Chippewas in that game. Jeremy Harris scored 22 points for Buffalo.
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