MACtion Arrives to Cleveland

Yes!!! MACtion has finally arrived to Cleveland, and with it, the dancing dreams of eight teams. The MAC’s edition of March Madness is led by favorites Buffalo, the consensus pick to be cutting down the nets.

However, it’s never that easy, especially in the Mid-American Conference. Every team arriving in Cleveland thinks they have a legitimate chance to get their ticket punched to the best tournament in America.

Lucky for us, we just get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

THE FAVORITE
Buffalo (23-8, 15-3 MAC) –
Key Player – CJ Massinburg

CONTENDERS
Toledo (21-10, 13-5 MAC) –
Key Player – Tre’Shaun Fletcher

Ball State (19-12, 10-8 MAC) –
Key Player – Tayler Persons

Eastern Michigan (20-11, 11-7 MAC) –
Key Player- James Thompson IV

SLEEPER TEAM
Miami University (16-16, 8-10 MAC) –
Key Player – Nike Sibande

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March on the Horizon

As the month of February winds down, basketball fans across the country are beginning to feel the excitement of the two best words in sports, “March Madness.” This feeling is even more intensified in the heart of America as MACtion is about to take center stage in Cleveland.

With three conference games remaining, little has been settled as far as seeding. Even teams in last place are still dreaming of an improbable three game run that could lift them to the 4th seed, and the automatic bye to Cleveland that goes along with it.

What teams are peaking at the right time? Do Buffalo and Toledo still reign supreme?

Luckily for you the answers are below in this week’s Patrick’s Power Rankings…

1. Buffalo (20-8, 12-3 MAC) – Despite losing two out of its last four, the Bulls hold on to this week’s top spot. Buffalo looks like a team anxiously waiting for the calendar to turn.

2. Ball State (19-9, 10-5 MAC) – A five-game winning streak, including a 28-point victory over Toledo propels the Cardinals to its highest ranking all year. Ball State has emerged as a real threat to go dancing in March.

3. Toledo (19-9, 11-4 MAC) – Toledo fans are hoping this two-game losing streak is just the trials of playing in a tough conference.

4. Eastern Michigan (17-11, 8-7 MAC) – Don’t look now but the Eagles may finally be playing to its full potential. Eastern Michigan has won five of six and are peaking at the right time.

5. Western Michigan (15-9, 6-5 MAC) – Even though the Broncos have loss two of its last three, they sit tied for the final automatic bye to Cleveland. A clear example of how competitive and tight this conference has been this season.

6. Miami (14-14, 7-8 MAC) – If you beat the top team in the league, you get to stay in the top half of the power rankings. Miami’s impressive 84-81 win over Buffalo shows that this will be a tough out for anyone in March.

7. Bowling Green (16-12, 7-8 MAC) – Two straight hard-fought defeats leave the Falcons on the outside looking in to the top four spots. Luckily at just one game back, Bowling Green still has a chance at one of the coveted top four automatic byes to Cleveland.

8. Kent State (13-15, 7-8 MAC) – What has happened to the Golden Flashes? No one could have predicted a losing record for the defending MAC Tournament Champions, but after losing five of six, that is exactly what we’ve got.

9. Ohio (12-15, 5-10 MAC) – A healthy Ohio basketball team is a scary Ohio basketball team. No one will want to play the Bobcats come March.

10. Northern Illinois (12-16, 5-10 MAC) – Over the last week the Huskies have shown how deep this conference really is. A victory over Western Michigan, and a tough loss to Ball State, show this team can win a game or two come March.

11. Akron (12-15, 5-10 MAC) – It’s been a tough first season for head coach John Groce. However, Groce is an elite coach come tournament time, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Zips make a run if they make it to Cleveland.

12. Central Michigan (16-12, 5-10 MAC) – It was tough placing the Chippewas in last place, but unfortunately someone has to take this position. Central Michigan’s inability to win close games has been a problem all season.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Patrick’s Power Rankings

Buffalo and Toledo again showed why they are the teams to beat in the Mid-American Conference, both looking impressive, while also displaying the mental fortitude to grind out important conference victories in February. With a multiple game lead on the teams directly behind them, it’s almost guaranteed that these teams will have reservations in Cleveland.

While the Bulls and Rockets look elite, parity is the name of the game for the remaining ten teams. Sustained momentum looks unattainable for the rest of the conference, as no team has been able to get any separation with a prolonged winning streak.

The performance of the week has to go to Ohio guard Jordan Dartis. The junior, who has battled a hip injury all season, finally looked healthy on Tuesday night and his performance showed. Dartis scored 38 points, including hitting an incredible 10 three-pointers.

Did Dartis’ performance jump Ohio in the rankings? How does the middle of the MAC rank? Luckily for you the answers are below in this week’s Patrick’s Power Rankings…

1. Buffalo (18-6, 10-1 MAC) – After sufferings its first conference loss a week ago, the Bulls responded with wins over Western and Central Michigan. Next week revenge will be on the mind as Buffalo will look to avenge its only conference loss of the season to Kent State.

2. Toledo (17-7, 9-2 MAC) – It wasn’t always pretty for the Rockets against Northern Illinois, but Toledo managed to grind out another important conference victory.

3. Western Michigan (14-10, 6-5 MAC) – Even though they loss in Buffalo, the Broncos showed they can compete with anyone in the MAC. Coach Steve Hawkins knows what it takes to be successful in March, and has his team moving in the right direction.

4. Kent State (12-12, 6-5 MAC) – Just when you thought Kent State was ready to join Buffalo and Toledo as favorites in March, they lose at home to Eastern Michigan. Is this a setback or just life in the MAC?

5. Ball State (15-9, 6-5 MAC) – With the game on the line, perhaps no one has been as clutch as Tayler Persons. Bowling Green found this out the hard way as Persons’ last second three secured another victory for the Cardinals.

6. Miami (13-11, 6-5 MAC) – Any win on the road in conference play is important. The RedHawks almost picked up two in one week but fell just short at Western Michigan.

7. Bowling Green (14-10, 5-6 MAC) – The Falcons continue to quietly wait in the wings. No one is talking about Bowling Green, but recent performances suggest that this might be a team that makes a run in Cleveland.

8. Eastern Michigan (14-10, 5-6 MAC) – The Eagles made the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings going a perfect 2-0 with victories over Ball State and Kent State. Is this just a flash in the pan, or have the Eagles finally got on track?

9. Central Michigan (15-9, 4-7 MAC) – A tough loss to Buffalo shouldn’t diminish the run of form the Chippewas’ have had of late. Can they keep it going? That’s another question.

10. Ohio (10-13, 3-8 MAC) – If the Bobcats ever get healthy, and that’s a big if, Ohio might still have something to say about this year’s MAC race. Look no further than Jordan Dartis’ 38 point performance after sitting out with a hip injury.

11. Northern Illinois (10-14, 3-8 MAC) – Unfortunately it’s back to familiar times for the Huskies. Northern Illinois has lost six of seven games and better times don’t seem to be on the horizon.

12. Akron (10-13, 3-8 MAC) – I never thought I’d see the day where Akron graced the bottom of the Power Rankings. However with four straight losses, including the last three by double digits, I had no choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Regular Season Hits Final Stretch

With two weeks left in the Mid-American Conference regular season, the only thing we seem to know is that Akron will be the top seed and Miami seems destined to be the 12th. Everything else is still at play with four regular season games left, although we finally have seen some separation among the pack.

Just two weeks ago only one game separated the second seed from the 10th. Now Ohio and Buffalo have emerged with Akron at the top, with a multiple game lead on a coveted bye in the first round of the conference tournament.

Below is a quick preview of how I see the conference tournament going in Cleveland, but be on the lookout for a complete breakdown in two weeks of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, including brackets and game times.

THE FAVORITE

Akron (22-5, 12-2 MAC)

Key Player – Isaiah Johnson

CONTENDERS 

Ohio University (17-8, 9-5 MAC)

Key Player – Jaaron Simmons

Buffalo (15-12, 19-5 MAC)

Key Player – Blake Hamilton

DARKHORSE

Central Michigan (16-11, 6-8 MAC)

Key Player- Marcus Keene

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAC Madness Heads to Cleveland

What a difference a week makes. I don’t think it is possible for the Mid-American Conference to get any tighter. One thing we know for sure, the Mid-American Conference headquarters will be up all night figuring out tiebreakers.

As March starts to really get into gear, it is finally time for The MAC’s edition of March Madness to join in the fun. Most conference tournaments will really get going Thursday.

THE FAVORITE

Akron (24-7, 13-5 MAC)

Key Player – Isaiah Johnson

CONTENDERS 

Ohio University (20-10, 11-7 MAC)

Key Player – Antonio Campbell

Buffalo (17-14, 10-8 MAC)

Key Player – Lamonte Bearden

Central Michigan (27-14, 10-8 MAC)

Key Player- Chris Fowler

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAC Madness Heads to Cleveland

With apologies to ESPN’s Bowl week, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year. As major conference tournaments get underway, and the NCAA bracket begins to take shape, excitement and passion can be felt around the country.

The MAC’s edition of March Madness looks to join in the fun when their conference tournament really gets going Thursday night as two of the four favorites, Ohio University and Kent State, finally take the court.

The Akron Zips, who have a bye into Friday night’s semifinal, have to be considered the favorite.  The Zips, ironically built perfect to handle the stress of playing multiple games in a week because of its impressive depth, sit just two victories away from its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, something that did not seem likely after a rough 3-5 start.

Although Akron led the MAC wire-to-wire, there are no shortage of challengers that will gather in Cleveland this weekend.

The Favorite

Akron (21-10, 13-3 MAC) – Akron heads into the tournament a week after experiencing its first conference losing streak of the season. Any residual effects from that probably were eliminated after defeating rival Kent State on the road to close out the regular season and its first regular season championship.  Akron’s balanced attack helps take the pressure off its offense during big games, but who will step up and want the ball when the pressure is on?

Key Player – Zeke Marshall

Zeke Marshall, when on, can influence a game more than anyone in the conference. His seven foot athletic frame makes him unique in a mid-major conference and a nightmare for opposing coaches to figure out. Although his offensive game has improved, it is his ability to block and alter shots defensively, that puts him in a class by himself.

Contenders

Ohio University (24-7, 11-5 MAC) – The Bobcats must get production from big men Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely to cut down the nets this weekend. After scoring in double figures in 11 out of 12 games during the middle of the season, including efforts of 22 and 20 points, Baltic has failed to score in double figures in each of his last ten games.

Walter Offutt’s toughness, which has been felt all year, will have an even bigger impact in a tournament setting.

Key Player – D.J. Cooper

It is no secret that to win in March, you must have good guard play. With Cooper, the Bobcats have the best. Although Cooper has had a disappointing statistical season, the great ones know when it is time to turn it up. In four of his last seven conference games, Cooper has scored at least 18 points and was the aggressive and assertive point guard Ohio fans remember in 2010, during the Bobcats run through the MAC Tournament and upset of Georgetown.

Buffalo (19-9, 12-4 MAC) – While Akron has the balance, and the Bobcats have the guards, it has been the play of the Bulls big men that has put Buffalo on the brink of the programs first ever invite to the NCAA Tournament.

Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Mitchell Watt and last season’s Freshman of Year, Javon McCrea, have formed one of the most dynamic inside tandems  not just in the MAC, but in the nation. If the Bulls receive average guard play, Buffalo’s inside dominance might be good enough to win the title.

Key Player – Mitchell Watt

We all knew Watt was a great defensive player and shot-blocker, what we didn’t know is that he had the offensive game to go with it. At 16 points per game, Watt not only leads his team in scoring, but also wants the ball in his hands at the end of games.

Kent State (20-10, 10-6 MAC) – No one seems to know what to expect from the MAC preseason favorite. At times the Golden Flashes have looked like the team that won the regular season title last year. However, Kent has also looked lost and disinterested.

Still, the Golden Flashes possess the most athletic team in the conference and is scared of no one. Kent must run and play up-tempo to have success, and if they do, have the talent to win the championship it missed out on last year.

Key Player- Justin Greene

Whether it was an injury or something else, Greene finished the season uncharacteristically and not like the dominant player MAC fans are accustom to.  If Greene can find last season’s player of the year form, and provide the Golden Flashes with easy baskets, Kent might be dancing on Saturday.

Posted in College Basketball, MAC Basketball | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bobcats Suffer Tough Week

What a difference a week makes. Heading into a two-game road trip Ohio University sat at 19-4, one game out of first place and still with dreams of building a resume for at-large consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

However, one week and two losses later and the Bobcats sit in 5th place and have eliminated any chance of working their way into the “bubble” discussion come March. So what went wrong for Ohio? The answers are in the box score.

In a 77-73 loss at Toledo, the Rockets amazingly had more offensive rebounds than Ohio had defensive rebounds. This deficit led Bobcats head coach John Groce to question his team’s toughness and defensive execution.

Three days later in a loss to Eastern Michigan, it was the offensive end that gave Ohio problems. The Bobcats shot a pathetic 31 percent for the game and did not score its first point until 9:50 left in the first half. That is an amazing ten minutes of scoreless basketball.

The big question in Athens is was this just a bad week, or something to be concerned about. The quick and honest answer is, I don’t know. On one hand, a team that built a 19-4 record speaks for itself, and there is no doubt in my mind that the Bobcats will still be one of the favorites come conference tournament time in Cleveland.

But the Bobcats struggles offensively in conference play don’t seem to be getting any better. Add to that the sporadic play of star point guard D.J. Cooper and forward Ivo Baltic and Ohio University for the first time this season will have to deal with some adversity. Two straight home games at the Convocation Center should help.

Here is this week’s power rankings:

1. Akron (18-7, 10-1 MAC) – The Zips continue to roll up the wins and as they do, their RPI continues to rise. A bracketbuster win at Oral Roberts on Saturday should put Akron firmly on the bubble in March.

2. Buffalo (16-6, 9-2 MAC) – A come from behind victory over Western Michigan kept the Bulls on track for a regular season title.

3. Kent State (18-6, 8-3 MAC) – An optimist would say Kent is back with their current six game winning streak. A pessimist would point out that all six wins came against the inferior West division.

4. Bowling Green (13-11, 7-4 MAC) – The Falcons surprised some by winning at Ball State and then came home to defeat conference rivals Toledo.

5. Ohio (19-6, 7-4 MAC) – The Bobcats have the opportunity to jump back into the coveted top four (top four teams receive byes in tournament) as they host Bowling Green on Wednesday.

6. Eastern Michigan (11-14, 6-5 MAC) – The Eagles were the only team in the West to hold their own against the East Division.

7. Western Michigan (10-15, 4-7 MAC) – Three straight gut wrenching losses might hurt now, but taking Akron and Kent to overtime and having the lead late at Buffalo will give the Broncos confidence in March.

8. Miami (8-15, 4-7 MAC) – Miami has won three of its last four, however it has to be pointed out that the one loss came against Northern Illinois (3-20).

9. Ball State (12-11, 4-7 MAC) – Trust me, it’s hard to even rank the Cardinals this high after their 0-6 effort against the East. But that’s how bad the MAC West is.

10. Toledo (11-14, 3-8 MAC) – For the first time this season the Rockets showed some life with an upset victory over Ohio followed by a close loss at Bowling Green.

11. Central Michigan (7-17, 2-9 MAC) – Trey Ziegler must really like his Dad to go through this.

12. Northern Illinois (3-20, 2-9 MAC) – Stop the presses, the Huskies made it into the win column again this week.

Posted in College Basketball, MAC Basketball | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment