We didn't have any overtime affairs today, which is a lukewarm letdown, but we did have OMG IDENTICAL SCORES in Friday night's semifinals. Eleven-point victories for everyone! Even you, Nigel Tufnel.
But the two games had completely different looks and feels. Identical twins will always tell you that they were not the same person, just similar-looking people with telepathy. In the first game, Akron kept Western Michigan from a safe double-digit distance for much of the game, and this time they didn't blow the lead -- at least the whole thing.
Meanwhile, the 11-point "Diff" was also what enabled Kent State to advance to the MAC Championship and square off against their loathed Zips, but Ball State (of the 1-5 vs. the East division Ball State Cardinals) was astoundingly matching KSU blow for blow. The Flashes lead teetered between one and six points, but free throws and defense made the final score look ugly.
Before we get to the victors, let's say goodbye to our other competitors:
Oh, Jarrod Jones can dominate when he wants to. It seems like he'll have the occasional off-game, but he was very close to winning this game for his team — and for the division. But ultimately he needed help, and much of it will return for 2011-12.
Western Michigan still played way beyond potential. But what a sour note they leave on. Not only do they get knocked off in the semifinals, but some players lost composure in the last few minutes. Impressive point guard Mike Douglas was ejected for headbutting Darryl Roberts, causing emotions to spike, and later WMU center Matt Stainbrook knocked over another Akron player in frustration.
And now onto the remaining teams.
I don't know what Michael Porrini started eating for breakfast, but if you're not feeling clutch enough these days, ask him his secret. Yet another stellar game for the Kent State guard against BSU: 15 points, nine rebounds (four offensive), eight assists and one statement block. You can have Justin Greene as your MACPOY, but the tournament MVP is shaping up to be Porrini, whose performance is not up to par with Armon Bassett of last year's tournament, but it's graded high enough to merit consideration.
Did I mention Rodriquez Sherman is the only senior on this team? [scans back] No, it appears I have not.
This is now a rematch of the 2008 game where Kent State just throttled Akron 74-55. Remember Haminn Quaintance? Yeah, my memory's a little hazy too, but he led them to a 9-seed that year. This is not a 9-seed year for anybody in the MAC, but they might be able to squeeze their way to a 13-seed if they're convincing enough against the Zips.
The problem is ... we don't know which Akron team will show up. Maybe it's the one where Brett McClanahan is draining threes like an expert plumber. Maybe Quincy Diggs isn't fouling anybody as they shoot a 3-point shot. Maybe Zeke Marshall will be a factor on the court by staying out of foul trouble. (This one seems unlikely, although in their first meeting this year he scored 20 points.)
But most importantly, UA requires some Serb Magic from Nikola Cvetinovic. He's been just decent this tournament, notably fouling out against Miami and being more of a role player in the WMU win. And it's not just him: the streakiness that has plagued the Zips needs to end abruptly, especially against Kent State. No more of these 17-point leads that dwindle to a few possessions. In fact, don't expect to jump on Kent State early and stay on top. Expect to ride the pendulum back and forth, but don't fall too far behind Geno Ford's team. He'll scheme you out of your sneakers.
The game's at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Oh, and watch the women's final as well: 2-seed Bowling Green plays 5-seed Eastern Michigan at 1 p.m. on SportsTime Ohio/ESPN3/ESPN Full Court/Comcast Michigan.