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Akron Claims The Regular Season Title, Finally

Notes from an abridged MACsketball night (OHIO-Miami play tomorrow):

Final - 3.2.2012 1 2 Total
Akron Zips (21-10, 13-3 MAC) 18 43 61
Kent St. Golden Flashes (20-10, 10-6 MAC) 27 28 55

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How long were we waiting to finally publish this post! Feels like it's taken an eternity to officially crown them champions even though we all sort of knew it for a while. [nonchalantly shoves "BUFFALO WINS REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP" post into wood-chipper]

But they earned it. Going to Kent State, on the last day of the regular season, and being that veteran-laden rival is a damn exciting way to do it, even if the game wasn't entirely pretty on the television. Other than the first six minutes or so. Down nine points, Akron rattled off one of those familiar "streaks of bizarre domination" where they went on an 18-2 run.

It was so balanced in its madness that it's still quite hard to pin who Akron's best player is. Coming into the season we'd have said Nikola Cvetinovic, but that doesn't seem right. Zeke Marshall? Perhaps on this night (12 points, four blocks, seven rebounds). I keep deferring to Alex Abreu because when there is no clear leader on the statboard, look to the point guard. And I haven't watched a ton of Akron games start to finish but any time I look up I'm seeing Abreu make some type of play. But this time one person is not making a difference. So that credit goes to the coach. Keith Dambrot. And it took until his 10th MAC season (eighth at Akron) to finally win the No. 1 seed in the tournament, not to mention his seventh straight year of at least 20 wins.

Now it's up to Kent State to validate their meritorious 2010-11 season, their returning players, and see if they can win three more games in the MACT. A 10-6 record, returning four starters, all bench players and experience in the NIT quarterfinals basically means they're underperforming this year. (Exception: THIS BLOCK MY GOODNESS.) They can erase all that angst by role-reversing from last year and be the team that gets hot at the correct moment, sending the regular season champs to the NIT.

Final - 3.2.2012 1 2 Total
Western Michigan Broncos (12-19, 6-10 MAC) 36 34 70
Central Michigan Chippewas (10-20, 5-11 MAC) 33 43 76

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Now riddle me this. CMU is the second-worst team in the conference, correct? Then how the flip are they the best team in Michigan? This win gave them a season split against the Broncos, plus they beat EMU twice. That gave them the Michigan MAC Trophy in men's basketball, and I'm going to laugh if winning the rivalry could possibly save Ernie Zeigler's job. I need to believe that their looking to change positions at head coach, and maybe I'm wrong, but just beating WMU and EMU can't be their goal. How many players on the team even knew that was a trophy?

And then there's Western losing this game on top of all that. If you thought Kent State was underperforming, how about the Broncos? They went -4 in the standings in a year, going from division champions and breakout team to a lackluster group of good players who aren't playing well as a unit. (Except when they get in a fight: then everyone bands together. Muhammad Conteh was ejected for leaving the bench.) So I don't know about this team. Must we wait until their tournament elimination to say, I don't know, maybe this isn't their year?