Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:53 pm

What-to-know conference previews: MAC

Year in and year out, there might not be a more consistently competitive league than the Mid-American Conference. Or more specially, the East Division of the Mid-American Conference. It’s rare you see a team run away with the title, and this season was no different.

Akron came out with the regular-season championship, winning it by one game over Buffalo. Division brethren Ohio, Kent State and Bowling Green also all finished above .500 in the conference. The Zips head into the tournament as the favorite, but they lost three of their last five games after starting 11-1 within the league. Akron guards the perimeter extremely well, but the Zips are susceptible on the inside and on the defensive glass. Akron is a balanced outfit, with no one averaging more than 10.3 points. 7-footer Zeke Marshall is a tough matchup, though, at both ends of the floor.

Buffalo beat Akron twice and boasts the league’s best duo in forwards Mitchell Watt and Javon McCrea. Both players are very efficient and are capable of carrying the Bulls offensively and on the glass. The key for Buffalo will be turnovers; the Bulls need to take care of the ball.

Ohio has won five of its last six games to end the season, and guard D.J. Cooper is one of the best players in the conference. The Bobcats force turnovers and play an aggressive – and foul-prone – brand of defense. A sleeper could be Bowling Green, which won seven of its last 10 to end the season. The Falcons are led by A’uston Calhoun and Scott Thomas.

Expect an intense race for the bid, which is nothing new for the MAC.



Title game: Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2 (8 p.m., ET)


  1. Julian Mavunga, Miami (Ohio)
  2. Rian Pearson, Toledo
  3. D.J. Cooper, Ohio
  4. Jarrod Jones, Ball State
  5. Mitchell Watt, Buffalo

Conference RPI: 17

KenPom.com rating: 17

Sagarin rating: 15

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Akron Zips: 2011, No. 15 seed, lost to Notre Dame 69-56 in the first round.
  • Ball State Cardinals: 2000, No. 11 seed, lost to UCLA 65-57 in the first round.
  • Bowling Green Falcons: 1968, lost to Marquette 72-71 in the first round.
  • Buffalo Bulls: N/A.
  • Central Michigan Chippewas: 2003, No. 11 seed, beat Creighton 79-73 in the first round, followed by an 86-60 loss to Duke in the second round.
  • Eastern Michigan Eagles: 1998, No. 13 seed, lost to Michigan State 83-71 in the first round.
  • Kent State Golden Flashes: 2008, No. 9 seed, lost to UNLV 71-58 in the first round.
  • Miami (Ohio) RedHawks: 2007, No. 14 seed, lost to Oregon 58-56 in the first round.
  • Northern Illinois Huskies: 1996, No. 14 seed, lost to Texas Tech 74-73 in the first round.
  • Ohio Bobcats: 2010, No. 14 seed, beat Georgetown 97-83 in the first round, followed by an 83-68 loss to Tennessee in the second round.
  • Toledo Rockets: 1980, No. 9 seed, lost to Florida State 94-91 in the first round.
  • Western Michigan Broncos: 2004, No. 11 seed, lost to Vanderbilt 71-58 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 9:59 pm

Welcome to the Dance, Akron Zips

Nikola Cvetinovic celebrates the MAC titleAnother chapter in the rivalry between Akron and Kent State is in the books. The No. 6 seed Zips upset the No. 1 Golden Flashes in QuickenLoans Arena to claim the MAC auto bid on Saturday, March 12. The final score was 66-65 after a single overtime period.

Akron used defense to corrall the higher seed. 7-foot sophomore Zeke Marshall led the way with a devastating nine blocks to go with his nine points and 11 rebounds. Kent State was held to just 33.3 percent shooting by the team defense of the Zips as well. Akron guard Steve McNeese was the leading starter with 14 points, and Darryl Roberts kicked in 10. Forward Brett McKnight scored 15 in 23 minutes coming off the bench. Star player Nikola Cvetinovic (right) was held to just 4 points, but he was able to add 10 boards to the impressive overall team effort.

The Vitals

Record: 23-10 (11-7)
Colors: Blue and gold
We're thinking: 15 seed
Kenpom ranking: 124
RPI: 117
Best win: Kent State (twice)
Worst Loss: Eastern Michigan
Interesting stat: Six different players had at least one blocked shot in the title game against Kent State.
Most recent tourney appearance: 2009, Lost to Gonzaga in first round.

Posted by Eric Angevine

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:48 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 12:56 am

MAC championship game preview

Steve McNeeseIt's time for championship-caliber basketball to return to QuickenLoans Arena. March 12 will see a team from Ohio crowned champion on the court.

The participants in the MAC championship game are No. 1 seed Kent State (23-10, 12-4) and No. 6 Akron (22-12, 9-7). The last time a MAC title game was played without one of those two teams in it was 2005, when the Ohio Bobcats edged the Buffalo Bulls for the auto-bid. Even more amazing, this is Akron's fifth straight MAC title game, which they reached this year in spite of a low seed.

The most serious bit of history between the Flashes and Zips came in 2008, when Kent State pounded Akron 74-55 in the final to make it to the NCAA tournament. There have been ample in-season meetings that decided seedings and pure pride as well.

Kent State puts an experienced and balanced team on the floor, led by junior forward Justin Greene (15.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) alongside fellow upperclassmen Sherman Robinson (13.1 ppg) and Carlton Guyton (12.4 ppg). Akron is led by junior Nikola Cvetinovic, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds over the course of the season.

The MAC final will be played at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Posted by Eric Angevine

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:42 pm

Conference tourney preview: Mid-American League

This is for all the doubters who think QuickenLoans Arena will never see a championship team now that LeBron is gone. March 8-12, there will be passion, excitement and winning in the home of the Cavaliers again, because the MAC tournament will come to town.

Ohio upset Georgetown in the Big Dance last seasonThe Kent State Golden Flashes (21-10, 12-4) are pretty much MAC royalty. They’ve been in the league’s upper echelon for 13 years running, and have nabbed the top seed in the conference tournament this season. The Flashes are led by 6-foot-8 junior Justin Greene, who paces his squad in scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.4). The big man is flanked by two upperclassmen guards in Rodriguez Sherman and Carlton Guyton. Both shoot over 40 percent from deep, making the interior double-team a very dubious proposition for opponents. The Golden Flashes are the favorites to claim the MAC auto bid, but postseason dreams rarely go as planned in the tough Midwestern league, and they know that as well as anyone.

The MAC is divided into two divisions – East and West – and that can make for a bit of illusory superiority sometimes. The four teams that beat Kent State this season were also members of the East division. A quick look at kenpom.com shows a lot of red on the West side of the standings, which means some very bad offenses and defenses live there. It will be primarily up to No. 2 seed Western Michigan (19-11, 11-5) and No. 4 Ball State (18-12, 10-6) to prove the worth of the West when given the chance. The No. 3 Miami Redhawks (16-15, 11-5) are an East team, and will sit out the first round with a bye, as the top four seeds do in the MAC. The first round of competition will get underway on March 8, with the championship game taking place on March 12 in Cleveland.

MAC tournament bracket


Title game: 6:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 12 (ESPN2)


  1. Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois
  2. Julian Mavunga, Miami
  3. Justin Greene, Kent State


Conference RPI: 20

KenPom.com rating: 18

Sagarin rating: 17

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None


Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

Kent State: 2008 (71-58 loss to UNLV)

Western Michigan: 2004 (71-58 loss to Vanderbilt)

Miami: 2007 (58-56 loss to Oregon)

Ball State: 2000 (65-57 loss to UCLA)

Ohio: 2010 (97-83 win over Georgetown (above), 83-68 loss to Tennessee)

Akron: 2009 (77-64 loss to Gonzaga)

Bowling Green: 1968 (72-71 loss to Marquette)

Buffalo: N/A

Central Michigan: 2003 (79-73 win over Creighton, 86-60 loss to Duke)

Northern Illinois: 1996* (74-73 loss to Texas Tech)

Eastern Michigan: 1998 (83-71 loss to Michigan State)

Toledo: 1980 (94-91 loss to Florida State)

*member of Horizon League


Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

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