MAC Power Rankings: Halfway Home

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Akron's win over Ohio asserted themselves as the top team. Western Michigan is also becoming a clear choice for the third best team. But finally in our power rankings we have a ton of movement behind them.

Well, we're through eight games, Ohio-EMU notwithstanding. Let's check in on everybody's faaaaaavorite MAC basketball programs:

1. Akron (LR: 1) 17-4 (8-0) RPI: 53 KenPom: 42 BBState: 33

Was there any doubt? After trouncing the Bobcats on national television, followed by a surprise defeat by Kansas, they have the longest active winning streak in Division I at 13, a perfect 11-0 home record, and ought to win their next four games until their BracketBuster date against North Dakota State, or their return trip to Athens. If — and IF — they do lose at Miami or EMU, their shaky free throw shooting will likely be a focal factor.

2. Ohio (LR: 2) 15-6 (6-1) RPI: 92 KenPom: 70 BBState: 60

No shame in losing to the Zips, but that game kinda got away from them, didn't it? Stunning stat from the last two games: Ivo Baltic has zero points on five shots. Their next four games look entirely winnable, so that should set up their home date against Akron quite nicely.

3. Western Michigan (LR: 3) 14-7 (6-2) RPI: 107 KenPom: 110 BBState: 78

Lost in the hubbub of Akron's streak is one half as impressive in Kalamazoo. After losses to Akron and Ohio, the Broncos have won their last six. Darius Paul and Shayne Whittington have played especially well and David Brown is recovering from his ACL injury and returning to form. As a result the Broncos boast the best defensive points allowed per possession in conference play (0.851), which ranks tied for 10th best in the country.

4. Toledo (LR: 5) 9-10 (5-3) RPI: 178 KenPom: 173 BBState: 162

The MAC Men's Basketball Tournament will be a lesser event without this team. They continue to shoot free throws at about 80 percent as a team and commit just about 10 turnovers per contest. They're an offensively intelligent team, and other than senior Dominique Buckley all other contributors are expected to return next year and be eligible for the postseason. They can continue to give teams fits until the NCAA says they can't play anymore.

5. Kent State (LR: 4) 12-10 (3-5) RPI: 193 KenPom: 138 BBState: 195

The bad losses are starting to piling up: at Bowling Green, at NIU, and a double-digit home loss to Toledo. Maybe the Rockets loss isn't "bad" anymore, but it definitely helps understand where they exist in the pecking order. At some point we may need to temper expectations on this team and realize they're not a MAC East contender. Still dangerous, yes. Heck, they almost beat Ohio. But they need to figure out how to score better, particularly passing the ball around and finding good shots.

6. Eastern Michigan (LR: 7) 10-11 (3-4) RPI: 226 KenPom: 247 BBState: 191

So much for proving that keeping a basketball team to 25 points was partly their fault, especially after going to Kent State — another team struggling to score — and allowing 77. A postponed trip to Ohio and a narrow loss to Western rounded out the second leg of their MAC schedule. True to form, their defense is going to keep them in games above all else.

7. Miami (OH) (LR: 8) 8-12 (3-5) RPI: 232 KenPom: 257 BBState: 247

This is the point in the rankings where it becomes a game of Pick A Name Out Of A Hat And Shrug Your Shoulders. Miami has lost three of their last four games and moved up a spot. It's been that kind of season for the middle of the pack. Their three wins, in all fairness, are against the three teams directly below them, so that acts as a nice tiebreaker. Now for the bad news: their only MAC West opponent left on the docket is Toledo and they get Akron two more times. And of their eight remaining conference games, only three are at home.

8. Buffalo (LR: 10) 8-14 (3-5) RPI: 221 KenPom: 189 BBState: 257

They're still fluttering in the middle, lacking any impressive conference wins beyond the three teams behind them. For a team that relies on Javon McCrea to individually win the game — and at times succeeds — eight is about right for this team. Will Regan may soon become the perimeter threat Zach Filzen once was, but he's getting there.

9. Central Michigan (LR: 6) 9-12 (2-6) RPI: 233 KenPom: 246 BBState: 235

Perhaps it was irrational optimism that CMU was not only competing but winning nonconference games. The bad news is that young roster is starting to show its age. They're also apparently shutting off the lights during Keno Davis's post-game press conferences.

10. Bowling Green (LR: 11) 8-13 (3-5) RPI: 288 KenPom: 205 BBState: 236

The good news is they've finally found The Third Man, it looks like: Chauncey Orr, son of the coach, averaged a little over six points in his first 19 games. In the last five contests he's doubled that, which has included a perimeter jump shot. But it's still the team of A'uston Calhoun and Jordon Crawford, first and second in the MAC in minutes per game (both over 35), and the team continues to rise and fall with their performances.

11. Ball State (LR: 9) 8-12 (2-6) RPI: 272 KenPom: 254 BBState: 223

It was easy to put them this low. I was so darn close to putting them last based on their MAC record. But I don't know how they won at Miami by TWENTY, or how they won both MAC games on the road. Majok Majok is a delight to watch work inside, but this team turns it over way too much to make any sort of run in a game. They still have two games yet to play against NIU, which could make or break their last-place spot.

12. Northern Illinois (LR: 12) 5-15 (3-5) RPI: 280 KenPom: 311 BBState: 301

Well, what a whirlwind couple of games for them. A 25-point performance followed by a last-minute victory against Kent State and a hard-fought loss to Toledo. Say this about them: they're competitive, as evidenced by them not being nearly the only team 3-5 in the conference. This brief piece in the Washington Post on NIU basketball gave me a good feeling that the program has life.

Computer rankings are accurate as of February 4

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