The Greeks & Persians, Frazier & Ali, Red Sox & Yankees… While Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan may not seem like a worthy addition to this list, to those who have ties to either school will certainly disagree.
The triad of Mid-American Conference Michigan schools (Central, Eastern and Western Michigan) have a heated rivalry that dates back a century with the resurrection of Western Michigan University. Eastern Michigan boasts being the oldest of the three schools, founded in 1849, but its cousins have made up for lost time in the century-plus of their existences and we have all benefited from the rivalry that ensued over the decades, though the in-state rivalry didn’t get started on the hardwood until 1975.
In that time, the Broncos have managed a 17-27-1 record in men’s basketball against the Chippewas.
Saturday gave us another great matchup in the rivalry as both teams looked to make moves in Mid-American Conference play.
The Chippewas have struggled mightily on the road this season, going just 1-7 in contests outside the friendly confines of McGuirk Arena in Mt. Pleasant.
On the other end of the court, the Broncos have been largely successful on their home court, going 7-2 at University Arena this season.
The Broncos would be disappointed if they hoped CMU’s homesick blues would carry over into their game on Saturday. From the onset, CMU seemed intent on establishing that this game would be a departure from their road woes and be more indicative of their overall success as of late.
The Chippewas played a physical first half, but Western Michigan was able to keep things from getting out of control for much of the first half. However, CMU proved too much and was able to take a comfortable 7-point lead into halftime, 41-34.
Western Michigan came out of halftime on a mission and a plan at making things competitive down the stretch. They did just that.
Broncos began to drop shots and get the ball into the paint, which in turn, began creating opportunities from behind the arch. WMU used the three ball to pull the game within reach several times in the final minutes, but clutch free throws by the Chippewas kept things from ever feeling in danger of slipping.
And it wasn’t as if WMU didn’t apply pressure. The Broncos rained down threes in the final minutes with startling precision, but the Chippewas unrelenting free throw proficiency sealed the game. The pair of teams each notched 44-points in the half, which carried over the 7-point first half differential and gave the Chippewas a much needed 85-78 road win.