Eastern Michigan Eagles
2017-18 record: 22-13, 11-7 in the Mid-American Conference
Head coach: Rob Murphy
Tenure at EMU: 8th season
Career coaching record: 129–110
Home court: Convocation Center
Starters: C James Thompson IV, G Kevin McAdoo, G Paul Jackson, G Malik Ellison, F Elijah Minnie
Bench: F Bud Jones, G Damari Parris, F Isaiah Green, F Ty Groce
Overview: Within the Mid-American Conference, the Eagles are a solid team. Last year, they lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament by one point and will be looking to avenge that loss this season. Many of Eastern Michigan's strongest players have returned this year, looking to build on their performances from last season. One player to watch is senior James Thompson IV, who averaged 14.5 points and 11.2 rebounds last year. The 6-foot-10 Baton Rouge, La., native has been improving every year, concluding last season shooting 67.2 percent from the field.
One of the Eagles' key players from last season is 6-foot-9 forward Elijah Minnie. Minnie transferred from Robert Morris prior to his junior year and hit the ground running, averaging a team-high 16.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last year season. The Pittsburgh native was added to the Julius Erving Award watch list last month.
One area of weakness for the team was its offensive efficiency. Without players who were skilled at creating their own shot, the Eagles suffered. This year, Ken Pomeroy has Eastern Michigan ranked at 124th in defensive efficiency, up from 218th last year.
One thing that needs to go right: The team is able to improve its shooting on the perimeter, led by McAdoo, who shot 38.6 percent from 3-point range in limited action last season.
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One thing that could go wrong: Poor defense plagues the Eagles, who are unable to pull off a resume-building upset during nonconference play and find themselves outside of the picture come march.