Welcome back to day two of Q-gazing's inaugural crowd-sourcing predictions for the MAC Men's Basketball Tournament.
First of all, thanks! We're digging the level of audience participation with almost 150 folks voting on the first round outcomes. Either that or the Hustle Belt staff all voted, and each of their mothers voted ten times.
As either the people or their mothers have spoken, let's review the results, then get going with round two.
No. 5 Ohio (88 percent) clobbers No. 12 Ball State (12 percent)
No huge surprise here, and honestly, this roughly matches the historical win percentage of lower seeds on the road in the first round. Man are our readers good. Ohio came in the huge favorite and easily carries the day, though if it's anything like their regular season, they probably fell behind by double digits in the first half.
No. 6 Eastern Michigan (94 percent) destroys No. 11 Central Michigan (6 percent)
Obviously our readers read and assimilated our primary data about what happens when one team sweeps the other in the regular season. After seeing those two games, it's hard to make the case for this Central Michigan team to make noise in Ypsilanti. The Eagles roll into Cleveland with an easy win.
No. 10 Bowling Green (52 percent) upsets No. 7 Northern Illinois (48 percent) in OT
So Northern Illinois beat Bowling Green in the regular season. So Q-gazing already showed that coach Louis Orr has won two games in six MAC tournaments at the helm in Bowling Green. So first round road teams lose 80-90 percent of the time.
Bowling Green pulls the upset anyway. We suspect this result might have been different if the home team were named anything other than Northern Illinois, but we also trust our readers. Hustle Belt readers have sophisticated MAC intuition, and it's telling them that Northern Illinois struggles to score, one of Bowling Green's guards gets hot, and the Falcons move on to the second round at the Q.
No. 8 Kent State (67 percent) tops No. 9 Miami (33 percent)
This exact game is playing out Tuesday night, with Kent State a six-point favorite. The Flashes already topped Miami on the road in Oxford, and voters decided that Kent State could easily handle Miami at home with tournament stakes on the line. Kent State's talented backcourt withstands the Miami press, hits threes in transition, and the Flashes pull away in the second half.
PREVIEWS - WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12TH
No. 8 Kent State vs. No. 5 Ohio
2014 head-to-head: Each team won on the other's court - Ohio won in Kent 59-53 on January 8th, but Kent State answered in Athens last weekend with a 75-61 spanking of the Bobcats.
Matchup: Devereaux Manley has led the Golden Flashes in scoring in both tilts against the Bobcats, totaling 30 points. Interestingly, Mark Henniger, whose senior MAC campaign has somewhat underwhelmed, had two of his better games of the season in the two Ohio games. Not only did Henniger total 21 points, but the Kent State frontcourt also held the Ohio forwards to single digit scoring (for each of the individuals) in both matchups.
This means, correspondingly, that Maurice Ndour has not had very good scoring efforts against Kent State, a fact which is somewhat surprising given Kent State's poor rebounding numbers and generally less imposing front line. For Ohio, Nick Kellogg led the way in the road upset with 19 points, but Kellogg turned around with an oh-fer-the-field, two point, and five foul stink bomb in the home loss last weekend.
A reminder about some old Q-gazing data (from February 16th): when teams split in the regular season, the team that won the second of the two games won 62 percent of the third matchups. When the underdog seed had mildly outscored the favored seed (by 1-9 points during the season), the underdog won 55 percent of the rubber matches. Both of these would point to a possible Kent State upset. On the other hand, when a third matchup was between teams whose seeds were different by three or four (presumably reflective of overall conference performance), the favorite won 82 percent of the time.
No. 10 Bowling Green vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan
2014 head-to-head: Eastern Michigan swept Bowling Green, first winning 56-51 on the road in the conference opener, then completing the sweep before January was over with a 69-57 win at home.
Matchup: Given the difficulties Eastern Michigan had with Northern Illinois this season, we have to imagine they'd be thrilled to see this matchup come their way. Bowling Green's offensive struggles are up against it for the second consecutive game, as they squeak past Northern Illinois only to square off against an Eagles defense that twice stymied them in the regular season.
Interestingly, you might think Richaun Holmes would struggle inside against the EMU zone and Da'Shonte Riley - in fact Holmes had 37 points between the two games. If there was a lesion it was Cameron Black, the Falcons' starting center who totaled six. It's also worth noting that in the two games TOTAL, the Falcons' bench contributed three points. If they've got a secret weapon, this is the time to let it loose.
For Rob Murphy's squad, the first game was won with a balanced offensive attack. In the second, Glenn Bryant - who had moved to the bench between the first and second games - came off the bench for a season best 26 point effort. One wonders if Bryant would get the start in round three. Obviously something was really to his liking.
Another reminder of Q-gazing's previous research: teams that swept other teams in the regular season won 84 percent of the third matchups. The seed difference number (above in the other preview) estimates an 82 percent win probability for Eastern Michigan, and the regular season points differential of +17 for EMU gives an 80 percent win probability based on past results. It's amazing how consistent - and strong - those numbers are.
But do our voters want to believe in Cinderella? It's time to vote.