State hoops notes: Central Michigan playing DePaul in CBI; Oakland losing two players

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Keno Davis' Central Michigan team will play in a postseason tournament.

Central Michigan's men's basketball team is playing on.

The Chippewas will participate in the College Basketball Insider tournament, with an opening game set for DePaul in Chicago on Wednesday.

Central Michigan (23-11) received invitations from the CBI as well as the Tournament, and debated whether it was fiscally feasible to play.

The fact the Chippewas have such a veteran-laden roster factored into the decision.

"We are excited to be able to continue our season," head coach Keno Davis said. "It is a great opportunity for our seniors to be rewarded as well as a chance for our returning players to gain more experience as they look ahead towards next year."

More:Get to know Michigan's first-round opponent: Montana

More: Get to know Michigan State's first-round opponent: Bradley

The Chippewas are led by senior guards Larry Austin Jr. (17.4 points) and Shawn Roundtree (16.6 points) and junior forwards Rob Montgomery (10.7 points) and David DiLeo (11.8 points) and guard Kevin McKay (11.3 points, 7.6 rebounds. They lost to eventual champion Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference tournament semifinals.

Still, Central had back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in more than 50 years. This is the fourth postseason appearance in Davis' six seasons as head coach, including a run to the Tournament quarterfinals last year.

Central and DePaul (15-15) play at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The winner plays Longwood or Southern Miss in the second round. The bracket is reseeded beyond that.

Eastern Michigan (15-17), Detroit Mercy (11-20) and Western Michigan (8-24) are done for the season, as is Oakland (16-17), which declined a postseason invitation.

Oakland roster update

Oakland is returning its key red-shirt junior stars for a fifth season, but still have some roster attrition. The Golden Grizzlies are set to lose sophomore guard Stan Scott and sophomore forward James Beck.

Both Beck (Grand Rapids) and Scott (Williamsport, Pa.) are exploring transfer options. Beck would like to start at the Division I level, and that's probably not in the cards anytime soon at Oakland. Scott could be Division II-bound.

Beck started six games this season and averaged 4.6 points. Scott averaged just 3.6 minutes in 20 appearances.

The door is open for either to return, but if they don't, Oakland will have five scholarships available for the Class of 2019. One is going to C.J. Gettelfinger, a point guard from Tennessee who has officially signed. North Farmington power forward Yusuf Jihad and Toledo power forward Jackson Harrison have verbally committed.

Latest women's bracketology

The women's NCAA Tournament bracket will be unveiled Monday night.

And the latest projections from ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme has an interesting scenario: No. 8 seed Central Michigan opening against No. 9 Michigan.

Creme has the teams in his South Bend pod, along with No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 16 Bethune-Cookman.

Central Michigan (25-7) and Michigan (21-11) actually played in the fall, in one of those secret scrimmages. Apparently, the Wolverines got the better of the Chippewas.

Michigan State (20-11) also appears safely in the field, and is a No. 9 seed in Creme's latest bracket, playing No. 8 California in the Starkville, Miss., pod.

Local coach picks

Oakland coach Greg Kampe always breaks down the NCAA Tournament bracket for The Detroit News.

But we reached out to the state's other Division I coaches, too. A couple declined to participate, saying they haven't watched enough games.

Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins played along, though, and has a Final Four of Michigan State, Michigan, Virginia and Houston. He's clearly playing it safe with Michigan State and Michigan, at least in terms of social-media reaction.

"I'm not interested in taking unnecessary abuse!" he said, though he insisted he believes both the Spartans and Wolverines are "capable" of winning a national championship.

Detroit Mercy coach Mike Davis also likes the state teams, picking Michigan and Michigan State to join Virginia and North Carolina in the Final Four. And he likes Michigan State to win it all for the third time in program history, first since 2000.

Final Horizon numbers

The final attendance numbers are in for the Horizon League tournaments, the last to be held in Detroit before moving to Indianapolis next year.

The four semifinal games (two men, two men) drew a total of 5,280 — you could make a case that half of those were at one, the Oakland loss to Northern Kentucky — while the two championship games, featuring no local teams, drew a total of 5,612.

The eight quarterfinal games at campus sites drew a total of 18,314.

In previous years of Motor City Madness, all games were held at a single site, but given the demands of Little Caesars Arena, the dates weren't available this year.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984