clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A Look At The Key Non-Conference Opponents For Each MAC West Team Next Season

The MAC West division has many out of conference challenges,and here are the key match ups.

Central Michigan was the #1 seed in the MAC tournament
Central Michigan was the #1 seed in the MAC tournament
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The MAC West division has a lot of variation in its non-conference scheduling. These schedules include some power 5 schools and rising mid major schools and some schools have decided to load up on tough competition while others play a much easier slate.

Today, we'll take a look at three key non-conference match ups for each MAC West teams. It should be a tough division with plenty of quality teams and their non-conference performances could set up an exciting season.

Ball State Cardinals:

  • Record: (MAC: 2-16), (Overall: 7-23)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 28th vs Valparaiso
  • December 5th vs New Orleans
  • December 22nd @ Indiana State

Outlook:

The Cardinals are coming off a season were they finished dead last in the MAC standings. Ball State's out of conference slate may be one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the MAC. The first game highlighted is against Valparaiso out of the Horizon League.  The Crusaders beat the Cardinals by three last year at home and are coming off a Horizon League Tournament Championship and NCAA tournament bid. As such, expect this to be a tough contest for Ball State. Next on the docket for the Cardinals is New Orleans.The Privateers also face MAC member Bowling Green this year. This should be a highly contested match up and could go either way. Lastly, Ball State will head on the road to face in-state foe Indiana State. The Sycamore are coming off a 15-16 record overall,and they  will not have any player as talented as alum Larry Bird, but this does not mean they will let the Cardinals walk all over them. This will be a tough road contest that could go either way.

Central Michigan Chippewas(Regular Season Champions):

  • Record: (MAC:12-6), (Overall: 23-9)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 23rd vs Weber State (Gulf Coast Showcase)
  • December 18th @ Brigham Young University
  • December 29th @ William & Marry

Outlook:

The Chippewas first highlighted match up is in Estero, Florida against Weber State. The Wildcats out of the Big Sky can be a tough contest for Central Michigan. This will be a neutral site game so it could go either way. Next up on the schedule is BYU. Last season, the Cougars lost in the WCC championship against Gonzaga.This does not take away from their successful season because it still lead to a tournament bid. I think BYU will be the toughest game on the Chippewas schedule. Lastly, the Chippewas will travel to Williamsburg, Virginia to face William and Mary out of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tribe are coming off a NIT bid and a second place finish in the CAA tournament. This should be a winnable game for the Chippewas, but William and Mary is not a cupcake opponent.

Eastern Michigan Eagles:

  • Record: (MAC: 8-10), (Overall: 21-13)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 23rd @ Michigan State
  • December 5th @ Penn State
  • December 12th @ Louisville

Outlook:

The Eagles have one of the toughest out of conference schedules in the MAC. Eastern Michigan did knock off in-state foe Michigan last year, but they will face an even better in-state team in Michigan State this year. The Eagles will head to East Lansing as a heavy underdog against coach Izzo's bunch. The Spartans are coming off a final four run, so this could become a blow out if the Eagles are not careful. Next, the Eagles play on the road against another Big Ten opponent in Penn State. The Nittany Lions finished with a 18-16 record and should be a very tough contest for Eastern Michigan. Penn State has not been a great team in Big Ten play, but they have ben steadily improving. Lastly, the Eagles will travel to ACC power Louisville led by head coach Rick Pitino. The Cardinals are coming off an elite eight appearance against Eastern's first foe listed in Michigan State. Louisville lost some key pieces, but this game should not be close. Pitino's squads always gave top tier talent, so the Eagles may be part of an ugly game.

Northern Illinois Huskies:

  • Record: (MAC: 8-10), (Overall: 14-16)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 15th vs Wright State (NIU Showcase)
  • December 4th @ Missouri
  • December 16th @ Ohio State

Outlook:

The first key match up for the Huskies is against Horizon League foe Wright State in the NIU showcase. The Raiders finished 11-20 last year, but are not likely to go down to the Huskies without a fight. The next two games should be the toughest two on the schedule. The Huskies head to Columbia to face Missouri. The Tigers are a tough team out of the SEC. The Tigers had a really down year last year, but the could give the Huskies all they can handle and then some. Lastly, the Huskies take on Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes should be the toughest team on the Huskie's schedule and are hard to beat home. I predict that Columbus will not be good to Northern Illinois, but this will help the team grow.

Toledo Rockets:

  • Record: (Mac: 11-7), (Overall: 20-13)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 18th vs Youngstown State
  • November 25th vs San Jose State (Great Alaska Shootout)
  • December 9th @ Detroit

Outlook:

The Rockets are coming off a strong campaign. The first game highlighted is against in-state foe Youngstown State at home. The Penguins did not have a strong season last year, but this is an early season contest that has trap written all over it. Next, the Rockets head to Anchorage to take part of the Great Alaska Shootout. Toledo will face the San Jose Trojans which have been a poor basketball program lately. Lastly, the Rockets go on the road against Detroit. The Titans are coming off a 15-18 season, but they should give the Rockets a tough contest especially considering it's away from home. This is a tough Horizon League opponent and should not be taken lightly. Detroit has had some very good recruiting classes as of late, but have not been able to put it together.

Western Michigan Broncos:

  • Record: (Mac: 10-8), (Overall: 20-13)
  • Key Match Ups:
  • November 14th @ Depaul
  • December 3rd @ James Madison
  • December 30th @ Vanderbilt

Outlook:

The Broncos three key match ups are away from home. The first road contest is in the Chicago area against DePaul. The Blue Demons should be a tough match up out of the Big East Conference. DePaul did not boast an impressive record last year, but they will not be an easy out for the Broncos. Western Michigan then travels to Harrisonburg, Virginia to face the Dukes. James Madison finished last year 19-14.The Dukes finished six games above .500 in a tough CAA conference.Stealing a win on the road will be possible, but it will not come easy. Lastly the Broncos will head to Vanderbilt out of the SEC. Nashville will be a tough place for Western to come out with a victory. The Broncos will be pulling off an upset if they can beat Vanderbilt at home.