The MAC Report, Presented By SportsTime Ohio

By Dave DeNatale

The more I watch Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball, the more stumped I am as to who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.  It changes on an almost nightly basis!  People ask me constantly who I think will win the MAC Tournament next month, and honestly, I don’t know.  There are literally six or seven teams that I think could…. could win it.  But trying to figure out how things will take shape is next to impossible.

Here’s what I think I know:

–Kent State is getting better as the season progresses.  The Golden Flashes have won five straight and hold a half-game lead in the East.  They are also money against the MAC West Division, winning their last 21 games.  Justin Greene is making a push to be the MAC’s Player of the Year, as he has been as responsible as anyone for getting Kent back on course.

–Buffalo is good.  Scary good.  Zach Filzen and Byron Mulkey are dominant players.

–Miami’s heart and grit is amazing (as detailed in last week’s blog).

–The MAC East is far superior to the West right now.  Now that said, I think Ball State and Western Michigan are still to be taken seriously as championship contenders going forward.

–Xavier Silas of Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan’s Brandon Bowdry are probably the two best players in the conference right now.  The problem is, both play for teams that just don’t have enough complimentary pieces around them.

Here’s what I don’t know:

–Can Akron be a factor in the second half and at the MAC Tournament?  The Zips continue to be maddening.  They lost to Eastern Michigan last weekend and just can’t seem to get any consistency.

–Can Bowling Green figure out how to start off games strong?  The Falcons continue to dig themselves holes in the first half and it cost them first place the East in a loss to Western Michigan.  Bowling Green could also stand to make some free throws down the stretch of games to put teams away.

–Can Miami hold up without Antonio Ballard?

–Can Ohio finally start playing like the champions that we saw last spring?  Their next two games vs. Western Michigan and Buffalo could give us a clue as to how seriously we should take the Bobcats.

–Which team will come up with a big road win?

So that sets the stage for this weekend’s action.  Saturday will be the final day of cross-divisional play before we start to make our way down the final stretch of the season.  SportsTime Ohio will bring you Ball State at Akron on Saturday night at 7:30.  The Cardinals are coming off of a tough loss to Bowling Green and suddenly their hold on the MAC West is slipping.  The Zips could really use a victory to kickstart themselves for the return to divisional action.

Tuesday’s STO game will take Michael Reghi and Steve Mix to Buffalo as the Bulls will host Ohio.  This will be a very entertaining game as Flizen, Mulkey and company will try to hold serve at home I still think Ohio with D.J. Cooper, Ivo Baltic, Tommy Freeman, DeVaughn Washington, etc. has too much talent not to be a factor heading to the Q.  But whether or not they can win a clutch road game in a tough environment remains to be seen.  Airtime for Ohio at Buffalo will be at 7:30.

And finally, STO will have Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan on Wednesday night.  While both teams come into this weekend with 3-7 records in the conference, both teams feature talented players.  The Eagles have double-double machine Brandon Bowdry, while CMU counters with freshman sensation Trey Ziegler.  Make sure you join Reg and Steve for all the action from Mount Pleasant starting at 7:30.


1 Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Horvath, ESPN Cleveland. ESPN Cleveland said: ESPN Cleveland Blogs: The MAC Report, Presented By SportsTime Ohio […]

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