Trial by fire
In medieval Europe, accused individuals were sometimes subjected to a “trial by ordeal”, which was considered judicium Dei – the judgement of God — and among the ordeals used was the “trial by fire”, which commonly required the accused to walk nine feet over red-hot ploughshares, sometimes holding a red-hot iron; those who came through the ordeal uninjured, or more commonly, who “miraculously” healed within three days, were deemed innocent.
If you’ve been sort-of paying attention, you might have noticed that the EMU men’s basketball team is 5-1.
However, if you’ve been really paying attention, you might have noticed that the EMU men’s basketball team has played nobody worth mentioning. Seriously. When we break down those five wins, they came against two NAIA Division II schools (Rochester and Madonna) and three NCAA teams that are a combined 10-15, themselves not playing against the toughest of competition. It’s not for nothing that both Jeff Sagarin and Ken Pomeroy rate EMU’s schedule as #345, out of 347 Division I teams. The best team EMU has played is Jacksonville State (Ken Pomeroy’s #212; Sagarin’s #258) — not a particularly good team, to whom EMU lost 61-54 — and the next-best team was IPFW, (KenPom #270; Sagarin #287).
But, it’s the holiday season, and it’s time for EMU’s schedule strength to move from famine to feast.
After more than a week off, EMU will face a brutal stretch over the next month, beginning this Monday at Syracuse (KenPom #6; Sagarin #4). On Saturday, the Eagles will host Purdue (KenPom #49; Sagarin #61). A week after that EMU will travel to Illinois-Chicago (#145 KenPon; #100 Sagarin). Then there are games at Michigan (KenPom #8; Sagarin #7), Oakland (Ken Pom #174; Sagarin #157), at Kentucky (KenPom #12; Sagarin #13), and at Massachussets (KenPom #101; Sagarin 122). The schedule over the next month will be every bit as difficult as the previous month has been easy.
The EMU men’s basketball team stands accused of profiting from a ridiculously weak early-season schedule. These seven games will be their trial by fire.