What-to-know tourney previews: MAC
Akron is down a player. So is Ohio the favorite here?
1. How much is Akron going to miss Alex Abreu?
A lot, I think. Abreu spent most of this season as the Zips' starting point guard and emotional leader, but he spent part of last week in jail after being charged with trafficking and possession of marijuana. He was immediately suspended and is not expected to be available for the MAC tournament, which could cost Akron the league's automatic bid and a place in the NCAA tournament considering the MAC hasn't placed multiple teams in the Field of 68 since 1999. Abreu was averaging 10.3 points and 6.0 assists before his arrest. Akron lost its regular-season finale without him at home to a Kent State team it had previously beaten on the road.
2. So who should be the favorite now?
Probably Ohio. The Bobcats are 23-8 overall, 14-2 in the MAC. Yes, both league losses came to Akron. But that was Akron with Abreu. This version of Akron isn't as good. So Ohio, led by star guard D.J. Cooper, should be a wise man's pick, meaning the Bobcats could be on their way to their second straight NCAA tournament despite losing their coach (John Groce) after last season.
3. The bracket doesn't make sense. Are we missing a team?
Yes, we are. Toledo is banned from postseason play because of a low APR. So that means nobody will have to worry about one of the two West division teams that finished with a 10-6 league record. The Rockets aren't involved this week.
Schedule: Opening round at campus sites. All other games at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. March 11 (opening round); March 14 (quarterfinals); March 15 (semifinals); March 16 (championship).
Title game: Saturday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
THREE BEST PLAYERS
- D.J. Cooper (Ohio)
- Zeke <span data-shortcode=" data-canon="Zeke Marshall" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_PLAYER" id="shortcode0"> (Akron)
- Javon McCrea (Buffalo)
Conference RPI: 18
KenPom.com rating: 15
Sagarin rating: 15
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