Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 2021-22 previews for all 7 state of Michigan programs

Detroit Mercy Titans guard Antoine Davis (0) dribbles against Oakland Golden Grizzlies during the first half at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.12282019 Bball Ouudm 12
Detroit Mercy Titans guard Antoine Davis (0) dribbles against Oakland Golden Grizzlies during the first half at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019.12282019 Bball Ouudm 12 /
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Yeikson Montero Eastern Michigan Eagles NCAA Basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Yeikson Montero Eastern Michigan Eagles NCAA Basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Eastern Michigan

Best Player: Noah Farrakhan

Key Returning Players: Bryce McBride and Darion Spottsville

Incoming Transfer Players: Farrakhan (East Carolina), Monty Scott (Portland State), Colin Golson, Jr. (Siena), Yusuf Jihad (Oakland), and Nate Scott (Northern Illinois)

Key Loss: Ty Groce

Head Coach: Stan Heath (1st Season)

Western Michigan

Best Player: B. Artis White

Key Returning Players: Titus Wright, Josiah Freeman, and Adrian Martin

Incoming Transfer Players: Markeese Hastings (Butler), Mileek McMillan (Valparaiso), Lamar Norman Jr. (Duquesne), and Mack Smith (Eastern Illinois)

Key Loss: Greg Lee

Head Coach: Clayton Bates (2nd season)

Central Michigan

Best Player: Jermaine Jackson Jr.

Key Returning Players: Ralph Bissainthe and Audre Polk

Incoming Transfer Players: Brian Taylor (Illinois-Chicago), Harrison Henderson (Southern), and Miroslav Stafl (Hartford)

Key Loss: Travon Broadway Jr.

Head Coach: Tony Barbee (1st season)

Rebuilding and or retooling is often used in professional and collegiate sports when a team and or program is building a foundation in hopes of getting better and improving so that the team will be successful in future seasons. In the MAC basketball preseason poll where there are twelve teams that compete in the conference, Western Michigan is predicted to finish ninth, while Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan are projected to finish in tenth and eleventh place. The only team predicted to finish lower than the three state of Michigan schools is Northern Illinois.

All three schools have relatively new coaches with Eastern and Central having first-year coaches at the helm of their respected programs while Western’s head coach is in his second season as the head coach of the Broncos. All three schools have lost multiple key players to graduation and to the transfer portal and all three schools have added players from the transfer portal as well as brought incoming freshmen to help their teams this season.

Western Michigan has the most established player returning of the three schools in White who was selected to the preseason All-MAC second team and they brought in six freshmen to help them compete this season in the hopes of accelerating the rebuilding process for the program. The Broncos open up the season playing two of their first three games against non-division one teams on their home court but they have a difficult game on the road in their second game against Michigan State.

Western Michigan then travels to play Iowa before participating in the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Invitational where they first play Florida Gulf Coast. The Broncos then have two winnable games in Florida when they play Purdue Fort Wayne and SE Louisiana back to back before traveling home to host Valparaiso a week later. Western then finishes non-conference play at Detroit Mercy, home against non-division one opponent Aquinas (MI), and then on the road against Notre Dame and Toledo.

Eastern Michigan bring back their second-leading scorer from last season in Bryce McBride and they brought in Noah Farrakhan a former four-star recruit who will start for the Eagles this season. Eastern Michigan has nine non-redshirt freshmen on their team led by Colin Golson Jr. so they will be young and inexperienced this season. Their head coach Heath has the experience and looks to have the Eagles exceeding expectations this season.

The Eagles open the season on the road playing Indiana and then have a winnable game at home against Illinois State. Eastern then goes on the road again to face off against Michigan State and then Northern Kentucky. The Eagles schedule eases some when they face off at home against Western Illinois and then at DePaul as part of the DePaul Blue Demon Classic.

Eastern then travels to the west coast to face off against UC San Diego and after, comes home to host non-division one opponent Northwood. The Eagles then have back-to-back home games against Niagara and Florida International and end non-conference play with a road game at Valparaiso.

Central Michigan is the most unknown team of the three state of Michigan schools in the MAC. They have eight upperclassmen led by point guard transfer Jackson Jr. The Chippewas also have four true freshmen as well as four sophomores. They have height with four players listed at 6’10 or higher and three international players.

The Chippewas unlike in years past have a very challenging non-conference schedule that begins with Central Michigan traveling to play Missouri and then they continue non-conference play on the road against DePaul and then Eastern Illinois. The Chippewas then go out west to Las Vegas where they play Gonzaga and then Bellarmine in the Good Sam Empire Classic. Their tough non-conference slate does not slow down as they continue on the road and face off again Kentucky and then Xavier.

Non-conference play finally slows down for Central Michigan when they have their first home game of the season against Western Illinois and then go back on the road and play Youngstown State. The Chippewas then welcome UIC to Mount Pleasant before ending non-conference play on the road against Detroit Mercy.

All three teams are likely to struggle, especially early in the season. However, if they are able to win the games against other mid-major teams in non-conference play and have a strong start in Mid-American conference play, one of the three teams mentioned above may accelerate the rebuilding process and develop a strong foundation for the program.