Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MUNCIE, Ind. – One of the pillars of Sue Guevara’s Central Michigan women’s basketball program is a challenging take-on-all-comers schedule.
The Chippewas’ November and December slates annually include ranked teams from Power 5 conferences, and the very best mid-majors that the 11th-year CMU coach can find.
That was the case, again, in 2017-18, as the Chippewas emerged from that rugged nonconference slate 8-3 and ranked 13th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
Next up is the Mid-American Conference opener, and there is no easing into it for Guevara’s Chippewas.
The opponent is Ball State, which is 11-0, ranked fifth in the mid-major poll, and at 22, the highest-rated MAC team in the RPI. CMU carries an RPI of 104.
The teams square off in Muncie, Ind. on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Although it’s just the first of 18 MAC regular-season games, the result could loom large in a showdown of teams that have already shown they are among the league’s elite.
The Chippewas were picked to win the MAC West, the MAC regular-season title, and the league tournament in the preseason poll of conference coaches. Ball State was picked to finish third in the West.
A year ago, CMU finished 15-3 in league play, winning the West and the overall league crown. Ball State went 14-4, finishing second in the West and overall. The teams split their two regular-season meetings in 2016-17.
That the Chippewas and the Cardinals are among the elite in the MAC is not at all surprising. CMU returned four starters, three of whom – Presley Hudson, Tinara Moore and Reyna Frost -- earned All-MAC honors a year ago. Ball State also returned three all-leaguers, Carmen Grande, Moriah Monaco and Destiny Washington.
• Monoaco leads the Cardinals in scoring at 17.0 points per game. She is one of five on the Ball State roster who are scoring in double figures.
• Hudson ranks third in the MAC in scoring at 18.8 points per game, while Moore (16.4) is sixth.
• Frost leads the league and ranks third nationally with 13 rebounds per game. Moore, at 8.2, is sixth in the conference. CMU leads the MAC in rebounding margin (plus 9.2).
• The Chippewas rank second in the nation in free throw shooting, making 82.7 percent of their attempts.
• The Chippewas lost their last two starts, 64-61, to Duquesne and 84-70 to Quinnipiac.
“We need to have a short memory,” CMU coach Sue Guevara said after the loss to Quinnipiac. “It was disappointing to say the least, but now it’s conference time.”