Teams in the MAC West are getting prepared for competition with less than two weeks before tip off. The division consists of Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan.
The Toledo Rockets captured its second straight MAC West division title last season after defeating Western Michigan but was defeated in the quarterfinals by Northern Illinois. After two exhibition games, the Rockets will start the 2019-20 season on the road against Valparaiso on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The Rockets will end its regular season MAC play against Eastern Michigan on Friday, March 6 before competing in the MAC Tournament.
Eastern Michigan made a few roster changes after losing a significant amount of players at the end of the 2018-19 season. The Eagles finished last season with a 15-17 (9-9) record. The Eagles were the sixth seed in the MAC Tournament but lost in the first round to Ball State. EMU will tipoff the 2019-20 season on Nov. 8 against Siena Heights.
"We brought in four junior college players and five freshmen. Whenever you have nine new players, you have to see who stands out and who can work together,“ EMU head coach Rob Murphy said. "They’ve all had an opportunity over the summer. We should be pretty good anchoring the zone from the inside out. It’s proven. It’s a unique defense. We’ve shown the capabilities of being a great defensive team.”
EMU will be put to the test this season after matching up against Big Ten team Michigan State. The Eagles will start its MAC play against two MAC East teams, Akron and Ohio. EMU will close the season against Toledo before awaiting to compete in the MAC Tournament.
Murphy discussed what his team looks like before the season tips off: "We’re doing it by committee right now but I know we can depend on Boubacar (Toure) and Jalen (King). We’re looking for Ty (Groce) to have a breakout year. He’s got a lot of athleticism and he’s been in the program for a few years, I think he’ll have a good year."
Ball State finished last season with a 16-17 (6-12) record and will also start its new season on Nov. 5 against non-conference team Defiance. Ball State will travel to Hawaii to compete at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic before tipping off its competition against fellow MAC teams.
Northern Illinois will have an exhibition game against Roosevelt on Nov. 5 and will start its regular season on Nov. 9 against non-conference foe Northern Iowa. The Huskies will start its MAC run on the road against Buffalo then will travel to play against Central Michigan. The Huskies will then play in its first of two matchups against Eastern Michigan.
Central Michigan lost in the semifinals to Buffalo to end last season and the Chippewas will start the new season on Nov. 5 against Michigan-Dearborn. That matchup will be the first of four straight home games for CMU. Central Michigan’s regular season will come to a close against Western Michigan on Mar. 6.
Western Michigan finished last season at the bottom of the MAC West division. The Broncos completed the season with an 8-24 (2-16) record. The Broncos will play Oklahoma State on Nov. 22 before competing in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Much like EMU, WMU will also compete against the Michigan State Spartans this season.