This new-fangled second round of the MAC basketball tournament begins tonight. Teams on a bye are still waiting, watching, lurking in the brackets unscathed. Let's see who they'll play:
Can the magic continue for these last-seed Huskies? Did magic even help them beat Eastern Michigan? Because I don't know if the NCAA has any bylaws regarding incantations. It's not fair if some teams can cast spells while others have to rely on laws of physics. Just not a fair fight, even if on a purely Muggle scale WMU has the clear advantage.
If NIU was able to squeak by Eastern Michigan in a low-scoring affair, they'll have a hard time getting the same effort against the Broncos, who are want to score just a tad more. They averaged 66 points in the MAC season as well as 77.5 points against the Huskies. There weren't many other similarities in either game but it should be evident that Matt Stainbrook has the ability to do what he did against Ball State and own the basket area. NIU's tallest forward is 6'6" (they have guards at 6'7").
So there will be no more "no way they can win." I guess they can, even if magic will not be involved. But the laws of physics don't bode well in their favor.
Pick: WMU. Winner will play #4 Kent State.
We continue to whittle away MAC West teams featuring the two schools who both topped the MAC East in the first round. Some expected ... others not.
OK, so the Chippewas made the second round with Trey Zeigler scoring only three points against Bowling Green. Good on them, but they might need a better approach then Austin McBroom shots and hope the other team's pointing their pistol directly at their ow nfeet. Fortunately they split the season series against Toledo so they ought to have some confidence in this one.
The first game of their regular season series was an 85-69 CMU victory, the byproduct of all-around sound basketball. In the next game, CMU forgot how to defend, Toledo won by six and survived Zeigler scoring 33.
And somebody might want to guard Curtis Dennis. He's scored 18 and 19 points against the Chips, mostly helped out by that perimeter shooting.
What we need to remember is that CMU is still 10th out of 12 in the MAC in offensive AND defensive points per shot. Nutty things can happen in the tournament, and an 11-seed still reaching the quarterfinals would constitute that, but it looks like we're well on our way to the Rockets finally feeling good about themselves in the tournament again.
Pick: Toledo. Winner will play #3 OHIO.