Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - The nonconference schedule for the Central Michigan women's basketball team is just the way coach Sue Guevara likes it: rugged.
The Mid-American Conference portion of the docket is no different.
The Chippewas open MAC play on Dec. 30 at Ball State, the team that finished runner-up to CMU in the MAC West last season. CMU went 15-3 in league play a year ago en route to its first regular-season league championship since 1985. One of those losses came at Ball State.
The Ball State contest comes immediately on the heels of nonleaguers against Duquesne and Quinnipiac, the former the 2017 Atlantic 10 Tournament runner-up, the latter the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion that went on to reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, finishing with 29 wins.
"We finish with four of our last five nonconference games on the road," said Guevera, who is in her 11th year in charge of the Chippewa program. "Qunnipiac, Duquense those are two very, very good mid-major teams. That certainly gets us ready to go open at Ball State, which is a very tough place to play."
The league slate calls for the Chippewas to entertain defending MAC-East champion Kent State on Saturday, Jan. 13, and a home-and-home with rival Western Michigan, first at McGuirk Arena on Saturday, Jan. 27, and in Kalamazoo on Saturday, Feb. 24.
The end of the regular-season schedule could prove particularly taxing as the Chippewas go to Western Michigan, entertain Ball State (Feb. 28), and then go to Toledo (March 3). The slate features three Wednesday road games and all three of those destinations - Northern Illinois, Ohio and Buffalo - are considered among the toughest trips in the MAC.
"As far as a student-athlete, it's going to be tough because of long trips for mid-week games," Guevara said. "We have some very good academic student-athletes and they're going to have to split their time studying the scouting report and their academic work. They're good at compartmentalizing and they're going to be prepared both on the court and off the court."
The Chippewas open the season on Nov. 10 with a home game against Purdue, the first of 11 nonconference games that features opponents representing the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, the Atlantic 10, the Ohio Valley, and the Horizon, among others.
Three of CMU's 2017-18 potential non-conference opponents - Quinnipiac, Purdue and Iowa State - played in the NCAA Tournament last season, and two more, Duquesne and Tulane, played in the Women's NIT. Six MAC teams, including the Chippewas, played in the post-season a year ago.
"It's going to be a test from Nov. 10 until March 3," Guevara said. "And if there's one thing I know about this team it's that they enjoy a good test."