Miami-Ohio (4-7) at Central Michigan (7-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Miami 3-1, CMU 5-2. Away Record: Miami 1-6, CMU 2-3. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: Miami 0-0, CMU 0-0. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 48-18.
GAME NOTES: McGuirk Arena is the site of this evening's Mid-American Conference opener between the Central Michigan Chippewas and Miami-Ohio RedHawks.
Even though the RedHawks lost their most recent outing, they have to take some pride from it. They matched up with nationally-ranked Massachusetts on the road, and were only defeated by a 73-65 margin. However, close games don't earn much and Miami is just 4-7 overall and 1-6 on the road. The RedHawks will be home against Western Michigan next.
As for Central Michigan, it played a much-less imposing foe in its last outing, routing NAIA member Marygrove, 127-44, in the first half of a two-game homestand that finishes with this contest. The recent victory stopped a two- game skid for the Chippewas, who are 7-5 overall and 5-2 at McGuirk Arena this season. Next up, CMU ventures out to face Toledo and Bowling Green in back-to- back road games.
As far as MAC rivalries goes, this is not one of the most competitive. The RedHawks have won 48 of the 66 previous meetings, including each of the last four. Both teams were at the bottom of the MAC standings last season, with Miami finishing 3-13 in league action, and Central Michigan just a step ahead at 4-12.
Although they trailed for the majority of the game, the RedHawks hung with UMass, trailing by more than 10 points only once. Will Felder poured in a game-high 22 points to pace Miami, which shot 48.3 percent from the floor but could not overcome deficits from 3-point range (21-3) and the free-throw line (16-4).
Success on offense is not a luxury the RedHawks have enjoyed many times this season. They are last in the MAC in scoring (64.9 ppg) and shoot just 43.5 percent from the field. Felder (14 ppg, 7.3 rpg) leads the team in scoring and rebounding, although he has reached double figures in only two of his last four games. Felder's work on the boards largely goes unnoticed because the RedHawks are last in the MAC in rebounding (32.4 pg). Geovonie McKnight (10.7 ppg) has filled in as the second scoring option since Reggie Johnson (11.8 ppg) has missed the last two game due to personal issues. His status remains uncertain.
Although their production needs to be taken with a grain of salt considering the competition, the Chippewas did what they should have against Marygrove. They knocked down 63.5 percent of their field goal attempts, and had as many assists (23) as turnovers forced (23). Braylon Rayson led six double-digit scorers with 27 points.
Putting up 127 points is not a feat Central Michigan will be accomplishing again this season. However, the Chippewas are still a rather potent offensive unit as they rank second in the league in both scoring (77.8 ppg) and field goal percentage (.458), although they also struggle on the boards (33.6 rpg) just like the RedHawks. Chris Fowler (16.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and John Simons (12 ppg, 6.3 rpg) lead the way for the squad as the only two players averaging in double figures. Rayson (9.7 ppg) has proven to be a valuable addition off the bench though, especially with his range, which he showed off by hitting 4-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc against Marygrove.
The Chippewas will not score 100 points in this game. However, they will be able to put up more than enough to take down the offensively-challenged RedHawks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 72, Miami-Ohio 61
01/08 10:36:40 ET