You're right. we shouldn't have said bids and bets. We're just a one bid conference. Which is criminal! Either way here it is, your last opportunity to hedge your bets by taking two favorites on the MAC slate. Your March 14th picks:
Akron (-1.5) vs. Western Michigan
Akron continued the streak of an upsetless MAC Tournament Thursday night, banishing the fifth seeded Ohio Bobcats from Cleveland, 83-77. The Zips got 20 from Quincy Diggs and 19 points and 11 boards from Demetrius Treadwell. Akron shot better than 60 percent from the field and connected on 7 of 12 from behind the arc. The Zips outlasted a Bobcats team that got 25 from Nick Kellogg on 10 of 16 shooting and led the game well into the second half. Down five at the half, Akron took the lead with just over three minutes left, and shot 6 of 8 from the line in the final minute to preserve the victory. Of course you knew Akron was going to win, and cover, because we told you.
Western Michigan of course took the lazy way here. Oh I'm sorry, I mean they got a "bye." The Broncos haven't played since March 7th, and even then it was Central Michigan so not really. This of course brings up the classic argument, would you rather sit and rest, or have some momentum heading into the big game? It's worth exploring, especially since we're just a one bid lead. Talent wise WMU has the edge, this Broncos team rattled off eight conference games in a row this season. The longest current streak in the MAC however belongs to Akron. The Zips are riding a four game winning streak entering Friday's game. We know what we're going to get from Shayne Whittington, he'll be in double double territory. WMU's success may come down to the outside shooting of David Brown. If he's not hitting sometimes he doesn't know when to stop shooting. I'm always told "Shooters shoot," to which I respond, "Well they should also pass." We'll see what happens Friday night if Brown gets cold from behind the arc.
The Pick: The Akron win over Ohio really impressed me. The game opened at 2, so bettors are trending towards the Zips. Balance, discipline, and the extra carrot of a measure of revenge following an earlier tight loss to Western Michigan moves the ZIps into the championship game. Take Akron, lay the points.
Eastern Michigan vs. Toledo (-2.5)
AND THEN THE UPSET DAM BROKE. At least one MAC prognosticator wrote as recently as March 12th, "EMU is closer to Toledo and Western Michigan than Northern Illinois and Central Michigan." That exceptionally good looking savant had the sentiment cemented on Thursday night as the Eagles sent Buffalo home early, knocking off the Bulls 69-64. It was perhaps the most impressive defensive performance of the season for Eastern Michigan, handcuffing the conference's second highest scoring offense. Buffalo shot just 35 percent from the field. EMU wasn't much better at 39 percent, but 19 from Karrington Ward and 12 from Mike Talley, who hit 10 of 12 free throws, was enough to move on.
Oh man is this going to be a fun one. Mighty Toledo, 14-4 in the conference, 14-0 at home, 26-5 overall and a sparkling 36th ranked RPI, face the team they knocked off 77-66 on March 8th to close out the MAC regular season. That win established a new Toledo school record, who were led by Justin Drummond with 22 points, and 17 from Rian Pearson. The 77 scored by Toledo was the most allowed by Eastern Michigan away from Ypsilanti all season. It's the MAC's top offense versus the MAC's top defense. Enjoy this one, it will be the most entertaining game of the 2014 MAC Tournament.
The Pick: These two split during the regular season. Eastern held Toledo to a season low 44 points on February 15th. When picking this game I asked myself, "Which score can I better envision seeing again?" It's 77-66. Take the Rockets, lay the points.