|-1.5 WMU (-118) @ Betvictor|
My 10* PERFECT STORM is on Western Michigan at 7:00 ET.
The 2021 Mid-American Conference men's basketball tournament is scheduled to be held at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, from March 11-13. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, only the top EIGHT teams qualify. Two schools that will NOT be headed to Cleveland are 5-12 Eastern Michigan (2-11 in the MAC) and 5-12 Western Michigan (4-11 in the MAC). Tonight's contest will conclude the current season for both schools. The Eastern Michigan Eagles were scheduled to host the Western Michigan Broncos back on Jan 19 but that game was postponed, meaning this will be the only meeting this season between the rivals.
Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy is in his 10th season(two CIT appearances and one in the CBI but no NCCAA) at Ypsilanti but despite returning four starters, the Eagles will finish with the worst record of his tenure at Eastern Michigan. 6-8 senior Groce leads the team in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (6.6), while junior guard McBride (13.6) and senior guard Montero (12.5 & 5.5) give EMU a solid backcourt duo.
Steve Hawkins spent 17 seasons at Kalamazoo (seven division titles / two NCAA appearances) but was let go after last season's 13-19 finish (Broncos were just 8-24 the year before). His assistant, Thomas Kelley was promoted. Kelley played at Michigan State from 1995-99 and was a part of Izzo's first Final Four team as a fifth-year senior in 1998-99. Obviously, "Season One" has NOT gone well (see above). The Bronco's top-scorer is guard White (14.3), while the 6-9 Lee (12.9 & 7.1) and the 6-8 Wright (8.5 & 5.4) are the best frontcourt players.
Here's the rub. Western Michigan wraps up a very disappointing season with this home game vs Eastern Michigan but the Broncos can finish on an uptick, having won at Northern Illinois on Tuesday. The LAST thing Kelley wants in his first season is to lose at home (in the final game of the season) to rival Eastern Michigan, a team which comes in still looking for its first road win of the season. Bottom line is this. EMU was 4-4 back on Jan 14 but has lost seven games to COVID, while losing EIGHT of the nine games played in that span (win came over Northern Illinois which is 2-16, including 1-12 in the MAC). EMU is 0-8 on the road, losing by an average of 20.3 PPG (closest loss came by 11 points!).