Well, that was an interesting week. We had our wire-to-wire #1 go down to our #7, our #2 beating our #3 on the road, and other games that shook up the power rankings. We're finally starting to learn a little more about these teams and it's shaping up to be a fantastic conference season.
1. Ohio Bobcats (11-3, 1-0), LW: 2
Last week: at Kent State (W), Akron (Tonight)
This week: Ball State (1/15), at Northern Illinois (1/18)
We have a new #1! That's what happens when a team picks up a huge road victory to start the season and the previous #1 falls. Ricardo Johnson may be out for the season, but that doesn't mean we should count the Bobcats out of the race. Tonight's game with Akron is huge and could go a long way in determining the seeding for the MAC Tournament. This week Ohio gets two winnable games against MAC West foes. They won't be easy, but Ohio has a great shot at being 4-0 going into week three of conference play.
2. Toledo Rockets (13-2, 1-1), LW: 1
Last week: at Western Michigan (L), Central Michigan (W)
This week: Buffalo (1/15), at Akron (1/18)
We certainly weren't expecting the Rockets to be sitting at 1-1 in the conference at this time last week. Even though they battled back to make the final score close, Toledo was outplayed, out-coached, out-everythinged in the loss to Western Michigan. Now don't get me wrong the Broncos are a good team, but the Rockets were down twenty or so for a good bit of the first half. They came back to beat a bad Central Michigan team at home, but even that game was close at halftime. We'll learn even more about the toughness of the Rockets this week as they get to deal with Buffalo and Akron in the same week. The Toledo-Akron game is being broadcast on ESPNU at 11 am, so make sure to wake up early for that one.
3. Buffalo Bulls (8-4, 2-0), LW: 4
Last week: Northern Illinois (W), Eastern Michigan (W)
This week: at Toledo (1/15), Kent State (1/18)
The Bulls got off to a nice start with two wins over MAC West competition. The Eastern Michigan win was a good one for Bobby Hurley as coaches usually struggle with coming up with a gameplan to score against the 2-3 zone. This week is a big week for the Bulls as they get a chance to knock off conference favorites Toledo on the road and protect home court with a victory over Kent State. Everyone forgot about how good Buffalo was during the non-conference, but the Bulls are here to play and make a statement.
4. Western Michigan (9-5, 2-0), LW: 7
Last week: Toledo (W), at Miami (W)
This week: at Eastern Michigan (1/14), Bowling Green (1/19)
Western Michigan kicked off conference play with a bang, routing (essentially) Toledo in a win that shocked the entire conference. The Broncos then went down to Oxford and picked up a gritty road win over Miami in overtime. Other than Toledo-Akron, the Western-Eastern game might be the game of the week in the conference this week. It'll really let us know if the Broncos are for real.
5. Akron Zips (9-5, 1-0), LW: 5
Last week: at Ball State (W), at Ohio (tonight)
This week: Miami (1/15), Toledo (1/18)
Akron looked pretty terrible against Ball State but still came out with the victory. The game against Ohio has many implications as I said before and it's hard to judge the Zips after just one game. They should take care of Miami at home before Toledo rolls into town in another huge conference match-up.
6. Eastern Michigan Eagles (9-6, 1-1), LW: 6
Last week: at Bowling Green (W), at Buffalo (L)
This week: Western Michigan (1/14), at Central Michigan (1/18)
The Eagles picked up a good road win at Bowling Green but couldn't make it happen against Buffalo. Western Michigan comes to Ypsi this week in what is an important MAC West showdown. I can't quite figure out where to peg the Eagles yet, so hopefully this week gives us a little more clarification
7. Kent State Golden Flashes (10-5, 1-1), LW: 3
Last week: Ohio (L), Ball State (W)
This week: at Northern Illinois (1/15), at Buffalo (1/18)
Last week was not a good one for the Flashes as Ohio beat them at home and they needed a huge second half to beat lowly Ball State at home. I hesitated dropping them this far, but I think I overrated them a little based off of their non-conference play. They certainly have a chance to move back up as two tough road games await them. The schedule makers didn't do them any favors as they have to travel to the western-most school followed by a trip to the eastern-most school. I wouldn't be surprised if the Flashes came out a little sloppy during the Buffalo game due to jet/bus lag.
8. Miami RedHawks (5-8, 1-1), LW: 11
Last week: at Central Michigan (W), Western Michigan (L)
This week: at Akron (1/15), at Ball State (1/18)
Miami got a road win to start off the year, and even though it was just Central Michigan any road win in this conference is a good one. They then came out and played Western Michigan to overtime; those same Broncos that took out Toledo. The trip to Akron will be tough, but the game at Ball State is certainly a winnable one.
9. Bowling Green Falcons (6-8, 0-1), LW: 8
Last week: Eastern Michigan (L), Northern Illinois (ongoing)
This week: Central Michigan (1/15), at Western Michigan (1/19)
Bowling Green took a tough home loss to Eastern and are playing Northern Illinois right now. The Falcons really could have used a victory over the Eagles but couldn't get it done. A home game against the Chips should be a win, while the road contest at Western Michigan will be a little bit tougher.
10. Northern Illinois Huskies (6-7, 0-1), LW: 10
Last week: at Buffalo (L), at Bowling Green (ongoing)
This week: Kent State (1/15), Ohio (1/18)
The Huskies were beaten soundly by Buffalo, which is to be expected. They get two MAC East foes this week, and for them to knock off either of Kent State or Ohio would be a major upset.
11. Ball State Cardinals (3-10, 0-2), LW: 12
Last week: Akron (L), at Kent State (L)
This week: at Ohio (1/15), Miami (1/18)
The schedule makers didn't give any favors to James Whitford, as he started conference play with three contenders out of the MAC East. I moved Ball State up over Central Michigan due to them playing Akron well and for their first half performance against Kent State, which showed what this team could be clicking on all cylinders. The game against Miami will be Whitford's chance to pick up his first conference victory.
12. Central Michigan Chippewas (7-7, 0-2), LW: 9
Last week: Miami (L), at Toledo (L)
This week: at Bowling Green (1/15), Eastern Michigan (1/18)
The Chips really could have used a home win over Miami to start off the year but it didn't happen. They played a little better in the loss to Toledo, but could never get close enough to mount a serious comeback. Central Michigan has two winnable games this week, but if they lose both and fall to 0-4 it's going to be a long season in Mt. Pleasant.