July 14, 2012 in Division I
The Eastern Michigan basketball team is hoping to build on a conference season that saw the Eagles go 9-7 and finish in first place in the MAC West. They’ll get a great chance to test themselves in a non-conference game when they play at defending national champion Kentucky January 2. From AnnArbor.com:
Eastern Michigan went 5-10 in non-conference games last season, including a 2-9 record in road games. The Eagles faced three major-college non-conference opponents, losing 72-40 at home against Michigan State and dropping road games at Syracuse (84-48) and Purdue (61-36).
That will be Kentucky’s final non-conference game before SEC play begins. Kentucky fans, for what it’s worth, are not particularly enthused about the team’s home schedule. From Ken Howlett of A Sea of Blue:
At best, a potential top-20 team in the Baylor Bears, who Kentucky defeated in the Elite Eight in the 2012 NCAA tourney; Marshall, a 21-win team last year and one of the favorites to win C-USA, and Long Island University, a top 100 RPI team last year who won the Northeast Conference with a 16-2 record, and lost to Michigan State by 22 in the second round of the NCAA tournament (of course, the second round of the NCAA tourney is actually the first round).
At worst, the ‘Cats’ home schedule offers a series of veritable patsies ranging from Lafayette (Pa.), a game which opens UK’s Rupp Arena schedule, Samford (where Martin Newton is the athletic director), Portland, a team coming off a seven win season, Lipscomb, a squad coming off a 13-18 year, and Eastern Michigan, a MAC team looking to bounce back from a 14-18 effort in 2012. The Wildcats will be playing Lafayette and Eastern Michigan for the first time in their history.
Other than that, Kentucky’s home nonconference schedule comprises Northwood and Transylvania in exhibitions, the season-opener against Lafayette on November 16, and then Morehead State, Long Island, Samford, Portland, Lipscomb, Marshall, and Eastern Michigan. No offense to any of those programs, but that is not exactly a murderer’s row of home dates — especially considering that Kentucky is the reigning national champion and a likely preseason top-three team in 2012-13. To be frank, that schedule is weak.
Sounds like plenty of motivation for Eastern to go into Lexington and pull of a monumental, program-altering upset, amiright?