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Gonzaga vs Central Michigan Preview

The Zags kick off their week in the Sin City against an opponent out of the MAC.

NCAA Basketball: Alcorn State at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Central Michigan Chippewas will have a tough task against the #1 team in the nation at the 27th annual Good Sam Empire Classic at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. This tournament stretches from November 22nd to the 23rd and will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Other teams included in the tournament field are the Bellarmine Knights and #2 UCLA Bruins.

Central Michigan Chippewas:

During the offseason, Central Michigan fired their head coach Keno Davis after 9 years at the helm. The Chippewas went 142-143 under Davis and never made the NCAA tournament during that time.

The school decided to hire Kentucky assistant Tony Barbee as his replacement. Barbee spent the past 7 years under John Calipari in Lexington and played a big part in the recruiting process for the Wildcats.

Record: 1-2 (wins: @ Eastern Illinois; losses: @ Missouri, @ DePaul)

KenPom Ranking: 309th

Points Per Game: 65.3

Points Allowed Per Game: 79.3

Rebounds Per Game: 31.3

Assists Per Game: 12.0

Turnovers Per Game: 13.7

Field Goal Percentage: 40.4%

Three-Point Percentage: 33.3%

Free-Throw Percentage: 55.3%

Key Player: Jermaine Jackson Jr. - 14.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1. SPG

The 6’0” senior guard has been the go-to scorer for the Chippewas and has done it on a consistent shooting percentage at 45.2 FG% and 45.0 3P%. On November 15th, Jackson made a go-ahead layup at the buzzer to beat Eastern Illinois, 62-61. He would finish with 14 points.

Jermaine started out his career at Detroit-Mercy before he transferred over to Long Island University for the next three seasons. He is now a grad transfer with Central Michigan.

His father, Jermaine Jackson Sr., played in the NBA for several seasons and recently coached LaMelo Ball at the SPIRE Institute for his senior high school basketball season. He now acts as LaMelo’s manager.

Jackson Jr. is the engine that keeps this Central Michigan offense running. He can score on all three levels but throughout his career, Jermaine has been known to attack the rim the most. He loves to put the ball on the deck and plays his best off the dribble.

He is currently averaging 3 three-pointers made per game (the most in his college career) and has improved the deep look each season. You don’t want to give him any space out there.

The best offense in the land should have little trouble carving through the Chippewa defense that gave up 99 points to DePaul. You can catch the matchup between the #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Central Michigan Chippewas on Monday, 11/22 at 8 PM PT on ESPNU.

Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho