Central Michigan (0-0) at Iowa (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 12, 7:36 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) -- Iowa City, Iowa. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: CMU 0-0, Iowa 1-0. Away Record: CMU 0-0, Iowa 0-0. Neutral Record: CMU 0-0, Iowa 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 0-0, Iowa 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Central Michigan Chippewas will open their season on the road tonight, as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Central Michigan had yet another down season in 2011-12, winning just 11 games overall while going 5-11 in Mid-American Conference play. The Chippewas fired Ernie Zeigler in the offseason after he managed to win just 76 games in his six seasons. He's been replaced by Keno Davis, who spent three seasons as the head coach of Providence from 2008-2011 before taking a year off from coaching last season.
In front of its largest home crowd in more than a decade, Iowa took down Texas-Pan American on Friday night, 86-55. Head coach Fran McCaffery is now 10-7 in season openers, including 7-1 in home openers, and the Hawkeyes improved to 15-0 when holding and opponent to fewer than 60 points over the past two seasons.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs. The Hawkeyes have gone 22-7 all-time against current teams from the MAC.
If it wasn't bad enough that Central Michigan averaged just 62.0 ppg on less than 40 percent field goal shooting a year ago, it will have to try to improve that number this season without Trey Zeigler (15.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg), who transferred to Pittsburgh in the offseason. Zeigler wasn't the only key departure, as Derek Jackson (11.5 ppg) and Austin McBroom (10.9 ppg) have also moved on. The only returning starter is forward Olivier Mbaigoto, who put up modest numbers a season ago (7.1 ppg, 4.8 ppg). Finis Craddock, Austin Keel and Zach Saylor return from last year's squad, but they combined to average just over seven points per game. For a team that struggled so badly in recent years, perhaps an influx of new faces isn't the worst thing in the world. Kyle Randall averaged nearly 10 ppg during his freshman and sophomore years at UNC Greensboro and he will definitely be in the backcourt mix for the Chippewas. Freshmen forwards Blake Hibbits (6-7, 203) and John Simons (6-8, 209) could see extended playing time this year in a thin frontcourt.
Although Iowa got off to a slow start in the first half against UTPA (.389 FG percentage), it improved to 51.5 percent after the break to finish 31-of-69, including 7-of-16 from three-point range for the game. The effort at the defensive end of the court was outstanding, as the Hawkeyes forced nearly as many turnovers (19) as UTPA had made field goals (23). Leading four players in double figures was Aaron White, who shot 6-of-9 from the field for 16 points, and he also tallied a career-high four steals. Iowa is leaning on White to be a top performer this year, as he was named to the Preseason All- Big Ten Third Team. Zach McCabe tallied 14 points and eight boards, and the team's leading returning scorer from last season Roy Devyn Marble (11.5 ppg) put up 11 points. Adam Woodbury rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and he logged three of the team's 10 blocked shots. Melsahn Basabe came off the bench and narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Central Michigan is clearly a team in rebuilding mode, as it doesn't possess any player that has proven to be reliable scorer on a consistent basis. Iowa is a deep team that will make some noise in the Big Ten this season, and it will have no problem defeating the Chippewas in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa 75, Central Michigan 55
11/12 10:39:21 ET