MAC Basketball Review: Akron And Ball State Depart Into Different Horizons

Notes from a two-thirds night in basketball, featuring means and extremes:


Final - 2.15.2012 1 2 Total
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (8-16, 4-8 MAC) 33 26 59
Akron Zips (19-7, 11-1 MAC) 33 41 74

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This is the sound of the Zips pulling away. One more victory and they are guaranteed a single-bye. Nobody is playing better than them and true to form they pulled away from an undermatched RedHawks team. And it was a complete group effort. Chauncey Gilliam led with 14 points and Demetrius Treadwell added 13 points, but three others scored nine points, including Alex Abreu who led with six assists.

It really seems like Keith Dambrot is doing a tremendous job of not putting the pressure to win on any one of his players, because he has no clear above-and-beyond talent. But if I had to place a finger on it, Abreu is what makes this offense click and Zeke Marshall makes the defense better.

For Miami, Brian Sullivan led with 19 points and Jon Harris ground for 14 points and six rebounds. They're not in good shape, nor in a position to contend in this division. But they might spoil somebody's chances, given the opportunity.


Final - 2.15.2012 1 2 Total
Toledo Rockets (12-14, 4-8 MAC) 22 41 63
Ball St. Cardinals (12-12, 4-8 MAC) 21 34 55

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Video highlights not yet available.

And if you look 180 degrees the other way, there goes Ball State into the abyss of the "MAC first round road team" pile. Not saying that it's a given thing, but BSU is currently the No. 10 seed if the tournament began today. This seven-game slide has been horrendous for Billy Taylor's team; they have failed to score 60 points in that time.

Now this particular loss was in part to UT continuing their torrid 3-point shooting (12-for-17 this time) and keeping the Cardinals from getting to the line often. And I'm not sure how many teams are largely out of a game yet outrebound them 45-26, including 24-4 on the offensive rebounds.

Curtis Dennis continued his 3-point rampage with a 4-for-6 night, leading with 17 points. Dominique Buckley might've had the most complete game for them, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists — and no turnovers. Ball State was guided by a 17-point night from Jesse Berry, Jarrod Jones adding 11 points and 15 rebounds, and Tyler Koch chipping in a decent 13 points and six boards.


Final - 2.15.2012 1 2 Total
Bowling Green Falcons (13-12, 7-5 MAC) 26 33 59
Ohio Bobcats (20-6, 8-4 MAC) 28 44 72

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And between the extremes, we have two very viable bye contenders. I'm not sure if either team has a shot at catching Akron (BGSU is one game away from being eliminated from consideration) but they are both going to be ferocious in the MAC tournament. However OHIO helped their cause with this home victory, surviving a true "game of runs" — much like their first game against the Falcons — and splitting the season series with a team they'll likely finish near in the East division.

Some days DJ Cooper has pitiful games. This was certainly not one of them. His teardrop shot was working, as was the outside one. He ended with 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jon Smith has the best-possible double-single with nine points and nine rebounds, including a sampler platter of dunks.

For BG, Scott Thomas did all he could to catalyze runs and get the team back in with his 17-point night. Dee Brown shot for 15 points and Jordon Crawford ended with 11. But the true forwards were mostly held in check and occasionally foul trouble, so much that the best non-Thomas forward of the game was little-used Craig Sealey who had nine points.


Final - 2.15.2012 1 2 Total
Western Michigan Broncos (11-15, 5-7 MAC) 34 44 78
Northern Illinois Huskies (3-21, 2-10 MAC) 24 29 53

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Video highlights not yet available.

Back to the losing methods NIU goes. It must've been nice for them to not be the dead-last team for a while, but with CMU's victory yesterday they're back in the cellar. And at home against Western Michigan, small spurts of offense are never enough. This team made the Broncos look like a dominant road team, and that says a lot.

So I'll just commend WMU for keeping it simple and making their shots. A bombardment of threes (13-for-22) coupled with good rebounding made this one boring quickly. Demetrius Ward gave the Broncos 18 points (on 5-for-10 on threes) and Flenard Whitfield scored 17, and it feels good to say that for the first time in probably a year. Nate Hutcheson finished with 15 points. For NIU, Tony Nixon had a season-best 12 points and at least the Huskies were good on turnovers, only losing it 10 times.

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