If the top four teams hadn't all been in the same MAC division, the conference could have been looking at some gaudy records right now, and the separation between the top and the bottom of the conference would have been more clear.
But with the new format of the MAC tournament -- as Matt so eloquently described last night in 140 characters -- we did finally get that separation.
The new MAC tournament format weeds out weak teams with a marathon of games. The system works!— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) March 9, 2012
So tonight brings the semifinals there were pretty much expected before the tournament started. The tournament provided its miniature version of March Madness with the first-round upsets, but no one was thinking that Northern Illinois or Central Michigan was going to make a George Mason- or Virginia Commonwealth-like run to this point.
The numbers stayed true in that regard too.Tonight, the computer and its 28,000 games predict that Akron and Ohio will move on to the finals. The Zips have a 67.3 percent chance of winning and the Bobcats hold a 72 percent chance.
The fully rested Akron will likely be a challenge for Kent State, who had to bang and bang and bang with Western Michigan's big guys yesterday, while holding off the Broncos' charge at the end after the Stainbrook ejection. The computer, which doesn't account for rest, might even make that a bigger edge if it could have watched that game. That said, if Justin Greene can have another night like Thursday, Saturday's final could have a whole different look. Akron might get behind early while shaking off the rust, but expect this one to go the Zips' way.
Ohio gets Buffalo, MAC player of the year Mitchell Watt and his first-team all-conference partner Javon McCrea, for its semifinal. The Bobcats easily won over Toledo, so there should be no fatigue factor at play here. Tonight is the night for D.J. Cooper to show his frustration at arguably being snubbed for player of the year honors.
It won't be easy for Ohio, despite having swept the two prior games this season. Considering that Buffalo has never been to the NCAA tournament, there has to be some strong motivation in that locker room to break the streak. Then again, we have seen ad nauseam how that has worked out for Northwestern.
Ohio goes as far as Cooper can take them in this one. I am guessing that Buffalo's Jarod Oldham is the X-factor in keeping this close, but Bobcats win by a nose.
With that said, here are the updated chances to go dancing for the teams in the semifinals.