EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State women’s basketball drew the ninth seed in the Chicago Region and will face eighth-seeded Central Michigan on Saturday, March 23 at approximately 1 p.m. (ET) tip-off in Purcell Pavilion on the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Saturday’s first-round clash between the Spartans and Chippewas will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Michigan State and Central Michigan will be meeting on the court for the first time since the 2005-06 season, won by MSU, 75-50 on Dec. 30, 2005 in East Lansing, but Saturday will be the fourth overall postseason match-up. CMU’s Presley Hudson broke current MSU head coach Suzy Merchant’s career assist record that Merchant had held from her playing days at CMU (1988-91) of 463 helpers. Hudson now has 640 career assists. This is the first time that Merchant will have faced her alma mater as the Spartans’ head coach. This will be the first NCAA experience for six Spartans, including redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley and sophomore forward Sidney Cooks. Senior center Jenna Allen has played in three NCAA Tournament games. The Spartans have now reached the 20-win plateau for the 10th time during Suzy Merchant’s 12-year tenure. MSU is 20-11 this season after finishing league play with a 9-9 record.
MSU IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
This is the second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the fourth time overall that the Spartans have been the No. 9 seed, also doing so in 1996 and 2009, along with 2017. MSU is 2-1 in the first round as a No. 9 seed and 3-3 overall. In 1996, Michigan State beat eighth-seeded Massachusetts, 60-57 (OT) in Storrs, Connecticut before going on to lose to No. 1 seed UConn, 88-68, in the second round. In 2009, MSU was the host site and beat No. 8 seed Middle Tennessee State, 60-59, then upset top-seeded Duke, 63-49, in the second round, losing to No. 4 seed Iowa State, 69-68, in the regional semifinals. In their last NCAA Tournament in 2017, ninth-seeded Michigan State lost to eighth-seeded Arizona State, 73-61.
SPARTANS VS THE FIELD OF 64
MSU has played eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament, including five from the Big Ten. The Spartans have gone 7-5 against those teams. Michigan State has wins against No. 2- seeds Oregon, Iowa and No. 3-seeded Maryland. MSU has wins against No. 10 Indiana, No. 13 Wright State and a pair of wins against No. 8 Michigan.
ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Central Michigan earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and is making its second appearance in as many years and fifth overall. This is CMU’s first at-large bid as the previous four all came after winning the MAC Tournament championship, and the second time marking back-to-back appearances, after last doing so in 1983 and 1984, along with 2013 prior to last season.
CMU currently has a 25-7 record after the top-seeded Chippewas lost to fourth-seeded Buffalo, 82-77, in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, which snapped Central Michigan’s season-long nine game win streak. The Chips won the regular-season MAC title with a 15-3 conference mark, their third-straight MAC regular-season crown.
CMU is led by senior forward Reyna Frost averaging 21.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Presley Hudson adds 20.4 ppg, netting 3.4 3-pointers per game. Sophomore guard Micaela Kelly chips in 14.3 ppg. Frost and Kelly share the team lead in 3-point percentage at 41.5 percent.
Hudson leads the Chips with 183 assists this season (5.7 apg) and 640 assists for her career, breaking current MSU head coach Suzy Merchant’s career assist record that Merchant had held from her playing days at CMU (1988-91) of 463 helpers.
CHIPS VS. THE FIELD OF 64
Central Michigan faced six 2019 NCAA Tournament teams during the 2018-19 regular season and posted a 5-3 mark against those six foes. CMU played Albany Region No. 1 seed Louisville; Portland Region No. 4 Miami (Fla.); Portland Region No. 6 seed South Dakota State and No. 11 seed Quinnipiac, who play each other Saturday; as well as Portland Region No. 12 seed Central Florida and Albany No. 7 seed Buffalo.
The Chips beat Buffalo twice during the regular season (W, 76-65 on Feb. 2 at home / W, 100-95 on Feb. 16 on road), before losing in the MAC Tournament semifinals (82-77 on March 15 at Cleveland). Central Michigan also beat UCF (75-68 on Nov. 21 at home), Miami (Fla.) (90-80 on Dec. 30 at Miami) and Quinnipiac (67-52 on Dec. 15 at Hamden, Conn.). The Chips lost to then-No. 3 ranked Louisville (72-68 on Dec. 20 at home) and also lost to South Dakota State (80-71 on Nov. 12 at home), along with the MAC tourney loss to Buffalo.
Michigan State and Central Michigan will be meeting on the court for the first time since the 2005-06 season, won by MSU, 75-50 on Dec. 30, 2005 in East Lansing, but Saturday will be the fourth overall postseason match-up. This will be the first time Suzy Merchant has faced her alma mater as the Spartan head coach.
MSU leads the all-time series, 27-8, winning the last six meetings and 11 of the last 13. The Spartans and Chippewas are 2-2 on neutral court meetings, but Saturday’s NCAA Tournament match-up will be the first meeting outside of the state of Michigan, previously playing in Kalamazoo, Allendale, Rochester and Grand Rapids.
This year’s meeting is just the fourth overall in the month of March as well as the fourth postseason match-up, last meeting in the 1978 State of Michigan Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (SMAIAW) Tournament. The Spartans and Chips first postseason meeting was in the 1974 SMAIAW Tournament (MSU W, 47-45) in Mount Pleasant. CMU won the next postseason match-up in the 1976 SMAIAW tourney (75-65), before the Spartans took the 1977 SMAIAW tourney meeting (64-52) and then the match-up in 1978 SMAIAW Tournament (66-58).