Not much movement this week in our rankings, but the Mid-American Conference as a whole had a very successful week. The 12 teams went a combined 12-5 in 17 games, and the top six teams in last week's rankings were 7-2. It's arguably the best week of the season for the conference. There's also no argument as to which game currently holds the distinction for game of the year; Crystal Bradford's buzzer-beating three-pointer in Central Michigan's win over Dayton sealed that.
Don't expect much movement next week, either. Only seven games are scheduled, and only Eastern Michigan plays more than once. Six teams don't play at all.
With all that said, here are the rankings:
1. Bowling Green Falcons (8-1) -- LW: 1
Last week: Wisconsin-Milwaukee (W, 87-64)
This week: Massachusetts (12/15)
Not much to see here, as the Falcons steamrolled yet another opponent. This time, BGSU led for the final 32:05 of the game and for all but 2:52 overall. But here's news -- they actually trailed! Milwaukee held one point leads for 26 seconds (5-4) and 41 seconds (7-6). Yes, when you're 8-1 and have been as dominant as the Falcons have generally been, that qualifies as news.
The Falcons have just one game this week. They'll host Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon. UMass is just 2-7 this year, and they already have losses to Western Michigan (8 points) and Central Michigan (44 points). Expect another big win for BGSU.
2. Central Michigan Chippewas (3-4) -- LW: 2
Last week: Dayton (W, 94-91)
This week: at South Dakota State (12/15)
The Chippewas have played an incredibly demanding schedule thus far, and their won-loss record indicates their troubles. Dayton is in a similar boat. When the two met in Mount Pleasant, Mich. last week, they staged one of the best games in college basketball this season. The two traded the lead for much of the first ten minutes before CMU built a sizable lead before halftime. After the half, Dayton flipped the score and led for most of those 20 minutes. Trailing by six with just 21 seconds left, Crystal Bradford sank a three-pointer. Two missed free throws by Dayton allowed CMU to tie the game with another three. Dayton turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, and with just 0.2 seconds left on the clock, Bradford sank another three for the win.
It remains to be seen if this is what will get CMU going -- they have a very difficult three-game road swing at the end of the month -- but it was an exciting win, nonetheless.
CMU has another difficult game this week as they travel to South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits have already beaten Georgetown and Green Bay and play #12 Penn State tomorrow night.
3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-0) -- LW: 3
Last week: at Loyola (Ill.) (W, 82-64), Missouri-Kansas City (W, 75-66)
This week: at Michigan (12/11), at Detroit (12/15)
We said last week that more would be known about Eastern Michigan after their two winnable games, and now we do. The Eagles won both games and remain the MAC's only undefeated team. This team has a lot of young talent that is getting some great experience, and it looks more likely that they'll be a force when conference play begins.
Dare I say that we'll know even more about the Eagles in seven more days? That may be cliche at this point, but the Eagles do have two tough in-state games on the road. First, they have to go to Ann Arbor to face Michigan, then they make the short trip to Detroit to face the Titans. A split would be nice, but a sweep would really announce the Eagles' arrival.
4. Toledo Rockets (4-4) -- LW: 4
Last week: Detroit (W, 79-70), Valparaiso (L, 63-61)
This week: at St. Bonaventure (12/15)
Something just doesn't feel right about Toledo this year. I'm not sure what it is; the Rockets have as much talent on their roster as any of the other top teams in the league. They've won the games that they were really supposed to and challenged Purdue before losing 81-79. However, they also have a 13-point home loss to Drexel, a 24-point loss to Saint Mary's, and even their win over Cal State-Fullerton was just 59-58.
Last week, they split two home games by beating Detroit 79-70 but inexplicably losing to Valparaiso 63-61. The Crusaders are a middle-of-the-pack Horizon League team, and that's not a home game you should be losing if you're expected to compete for the MAC title. At this point, it's unclear what's wrong, but the Rockets are clearly behind CMU and EMU in the West.
The Rockets have another tough game this week when they travel to St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies are 8-3 and already have a win over Green Bay this year. None of their other wins are overtly impressive, but a win over a mid-major power like the Phoenix counts for a lot.
5. Ball State Cardinals (3-4) -- LW: 5
Last week: Western Kentucky (W, 85-77)
This week: at Wyoming (12/14)
Ball State is another team that's been up-and-down this season. They came into last week at just 2-4 and, as we noted last week, had just two of their next seven games at home. Their date with Western Kentucky was one of those two home games, and the Cardinals did what they really had to do -- win. WKU was 5-2 and had lost to #4 Louisville by just 13 only ten days prior, so Ball State's eight-point win looks good.
Ball State's next game is back on the road at Wyoming. Wyoming is 6-2 this year. While they don't have any stand-out wins thus far, they did take #11 Colorado to the limit before falling 63-59 last Wednesday.
6. Akron Zips (4-4) -- LW: 7
Last week: George Mason (W, 88-70)
This week: NO GAMES
Akron is much like Toledo in the sense that they have a wealth of talent but just have not looked right at times this season. You can't really blame an Ohio team for losing a true road game in California, but then again, losing a neutral-site game to California-Davis by 13 is just inexcusable for a team like the Zips. Akron has two players in Tecca and Luburgh who could score 30 in any given game. And now, another potential scorer has emerged in Carly Young, who is Hustle Belt's MAC East Player of the Week.
Fortunately, Akron seemed to right the ship with a big 18-point win at home over George Mason. Now, they'll get some time to recharge their batteries as they have an entire week off.
7. Buffalo Bulls (5-3) -- LW: 6
Last week: St. Francis (Pa.) (W, 87-77), at Siena (L, 64-60)
This week: NO GAMES
Inconsistency seems to be the theme for the middle of these rankings, and Buffalo fits right in. The Bulls have road wins over Binghamton, Youngstown State and even Pittsburgh, but they also lost at home to Cornell. Last week also showed that inconsistency, as Buffalo beat St. Francis (Pa.) at home only to lose at Siena. Siena's only previous wins had come versus Fairleigh Dickinson, North Florida and Sacred Heart.
The Bulls are a step above the bottom of the MAC, but as long as they lose games like that, they'll remain squarely in the middle of these rankings.
8. Northern Illinois Huskies (4-3) -- LW: 9
Last week: at Illinois State (W, 57-52)
This week: NO GAMES
One team's misfortune is another team's gain. After splitting a pair of games during the previous week, NIU went on the road against an in-state opponent and came back with a nice 57-52 victory. A win over a 1-4 team isn't going to set the world on fire, but it's certainly a step in the right direction for the Huskies. With no games this week, they'll have a chance to enjoy the win and the bump to #8 in this poll.
9. Ohio Bobcats (3-4) -- LW: 8
Last week: at Cleveland State (L, 76-64)
This week: Notre Dame College (12/14)
NIU's gain comes from Ohio's misfortune. Throw out the losses to Louisville and Maryland, both top ten teams, and the Bobcats are 3-2. Unfortunately, the three wins have been followed by two rather bad losses to Illinois-Chicago and now at Cleveland State. Need a comparison? Earlier in the season, EMU won at Cleveland State by 14. It's not that the Vikings are terrible, but they have only one regulation win over a Division I opponent so far this season. If Ohio wants to be viewed more favorably, wins in games like this are a must.
Ohio ought to be back to .500 when we revisit these rankings next week. They host Notre Dame College on Saturday.
10. Miami RedHawks (3-5) -- LW: 12
Last week: at Youngstown State (W, 70-67), at Northern Kentucky (W, 76-66)
This week: NO GAMES
Why does Miami move up two spots in this week's edition of our rankings? They won as many road games last week (two) as the rest of the conference combined. Miami deserved some credit for keeping their home loss to Florida State reasonably close (71-62) just before last week, and earning two road wins, regardless of the opponent, shows that the team is steadily improving. We'll have to wait another week to see more, as the RedHawks have no games this week, but they appear to be closer to what most thought they would be in pre-season than they have been at any other point thus far.
11. Western Michigan Broncos (3-5) -- LW: 10
Last week: IUPUI (L, 79-64)
This week: NO GAMES
Western Michigan followed a decent win over Chicago State with a winless week during which they lost at home to IUPUI by 15. That's not what we like to see. Now, the Broncos have to think about that during an idle week. Hopefully, when WMU returns to the court, they'll have a little more fire.
12. Kent State Golden Flashes (3-6) -- LW: 11
Last week: Niagara (W, 69-46), Georgia State (L, 56-55)
This week: NO GAMES
We would have been prepared to keep Kent State at #11, or maybe even at #10 ahead of Miami, if their only game last week was the 23-point win over Niagara. Unfortunately, it wasn't. They followed the impressive win with a meek one-point loss to Georgia State at home. This was the same Georgia State team that lost to North Carolina A&T by 25 points. Sorry, Flashes, that loss was a definite no-no.