MAC Basketball Review: Ivo Baltic Avenue

OHIO 76, Northern Iowa 59 — Sorry to disappoint everybody who expected to watch this game (with an $11 fee) with an expectation of a thrilling contest between two mid-majors. It sounded like the right answer! As it turns out it became even more of a coming out party for the Bobcats, who have piled up progressively better road wins: Marshall, then Oakland, and finally the No. 2 RPI-ranked team in the country, by 17 points, never trailing ever ever ... ever.

There was no second-half fizzle or disappointment down the stretch. There was only Ivo Baltic, who became the unlikeliest of catalysts with his 22 points including 2-for-2 on three-pointers. The junior had previously made just one such shot in eight tries. It wasn't D.J. Cooper's best game. but few are: 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals. Nick Kellogg and T.J. Hall also cracked double figures rather easily to help the entire team shoot 52% on threes and 61.2% on eFG.

A narrow loss to Louisville remains their only red mark. Two bad teams and a decent Robert Morris remain all that's left on their OOC agenda. It's entirely possible this team breathes down the backs of the Top 25 poll before long. Right now they only have three points in the polls.

BYU 93, Buffalo 78 — As it turns out, this game was on television, but a rather odd channel: BYUtv. I am surprised not only that this is a television station, but that I received it without asking for it. It's basically the Mormon Longhorn Network — although it has a ton of other non-sports programming. I'm really going to try and make this a non-review of the TV channel in and of itself, but it was tantamount to the entire experience. In the actual game Buffalo jumped out to a nine-point lead early but such trivialities never last. Most problematic was a barrage of 3-pointers (13-for-29) that not even Zach Filzen himself was able to keep up with. He did have 14 points on 4-for-6 shooting, and Mitchell Watt had a team-leading 18 points, but it was evidently not enough to overcome the BYUtv experience.

Nebraska 72, CMU 69 — You have to admire this about them. They possess a "have basketball, will travel" attitude and really performed well against one of the admittedly weaker Big Ten teams. Trey Zeigler had a whale of a game with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists but their big men got in foul trouble late and the Cornhuskers were able to free throw their way out of trouble.

Norfolk State 72, Toledo 70 — Methinks the Rockets need to work on their inbounds defense. Yet again with two seconds to spare the NSU Spartans broke a tie with a basket off an inbounds play. Junior transfer Curtis Dennis, who became eligible to play last week after final exams, led the Rockets with an impressive 20 points on 12 shots while Rian Pearson added 16 points and eight rebounds. UT is starting to regress but if Dennis can keep up this level of play they essentially gained a midseason acquisition unlike any other MAC team.

Kent State 67, Saint Peter's 58 — And hey don't forget about Kent State amidst all the OHIOopla. They're still at just one loss (Cleveland State) and are able to salt away games late, even when they're not playing their best. This one was out in Utah, where few saw it, but a poor-shooting night was augmented by 21 offensive rebounds. Justin Greene had 13 points and 11 boards despite seven turnovers.

EMU 52, Radford 48 — Ugly but effective, I would surmise. Quintin Dailey broke through with 13 points, which was a career high for the senior. Also playing in his first game for the Eagles is Da'Shonte Riley, a transfer from Syracuse whose hardship waiver was granted by the NCAA due to a family illness. The 7-foot center started the game, vultured minutes from the Matt Balkema/Kamil Janton combo and had eight points and four rebounds.

WMU 60, WInthrop 55 — As previously mentioned, a nice win over a Big South opponent was sullen with the news that David Brown would miss the near with an ACL injury.

Valparaiso 59, NIU 48 — Are you sitting down for this? Northern Illinois had a halftime lead. I know! But getting just 20 points in the second half was clearly not enough to put away an actually capable team like Valpo. Shot-happy Abdel Nader had 12 points on 16 shots, but Aksel Bolin had an efficient day with six points, six rebounds and four assists.

Evansville 77, Miami 75 — Another close loss but the good news is that Miami is getting help from non-Mavunga substances. Julian Mavunga did have his typical 18 points and 12 rebounds, but Brian Sullivan also finished with 18 points and Josh Sewell contributed 14. On a wonderful shooting night by both teams, it again came down to the free throws, as it always does — and the Aces just shot/made more.

In women's games:

CMU 65, Wright State 60 — Not one of their faster games, obviously, but it was definitely enough to win the Wright State Invitational. CMU is on a five-game winning streak which doesn't sound like much until you hear it's their longest in almost five seasons. Crystal Bradford had an immense 17 points and 13 rebounds despite a weak-shooting day (6-for-19).

Syracuse 81, OHIO 70 — Try as they may, the Bobcats weren't able to get over the hump against the Orange in Vegas. Tenishia Benson did her darndest with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Detroit 70, EMU 69 (OT) — This counts as a bad loss. The Titans are not a very strong team and the Eagles were down in most of the game, requiring a comeback in the final minute to force an extra five minutes. Tavelyn James had a very poor game (3-for-14 shooting, nine points) but Natachia Watkins pickedup the slack to the tune of 28 points. Olivia Fouty also had a double-double: 17 points, 10 rebounds. But this one hurts. With the way CMU's playing, I'm not convinced the Eagles are better than them.

Howard 81, Buffalo 57 — They were down 11 at halftime and after that it only got worse. Nicki Hopkins had a team-high 18 points.

Green Bay 80, Ball State 39 — Well, that's just painful. The Phoenix held BSU to a mere 12 points at halftime. They were overwhelmed at every spot on the court, but with GB being undefeated and ranked, this makes some sense. But being doubled up in the final score is never painless.

Today's men's games:

7:00 p.m. — North Carolina A&T at Akron (MAC Sports Livestream)
7:30 p.m. — Kent State vs. Texas-Arlington in Logan, Utah (Gossner Foods Classic)

Today's women's games:

10:00 a.m. (hey that's right now!) — Akron at Robert Morris
12 noon — Northeastern at Kent State
7:00 p.m. — Madonna (NAIA) at BGSU (MAC Sports Livestream)

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