We're one week closer to March, and things are starting to shake out a little bit. There was a little separation at the top, but not much. There are clearly five teams that can win the conference and a couple more that could sneak in to the top five. There aren't too many great games this week, but in this league anything can happen.
1. Toledo Rockets (17-2, 5-1), LW: 1
Last week: Northern Illinois (W), Kent State (W)
This week: at Miami (1/29), at Ohio (2/1)
Ho hum, another week, another two wins for the Rockets. Toledo heads on the road this week though and both games won't be easy. Miami has been playing well lately and it's always tough to win in the Convo. If Toledo can win at Ohio, they have a good chance at winning out.
2. Akron Zips (13-6, 5-1), LW: 3
Last week: at Eastern Michigan (W), at Central Michigan (W)
This week: Ball State (1/29), at Kent State (2/1)
The Zips swept through Michigan with two convincing wins over MAC West competition. Akron is 5-1 and look like a different team since losing to Toledo. The game on Wednesday against Ball State is a "Purple Out" in support of Director of Basketball Operations Dan Peters, who is fighting pancreatic cancer. There will be a lot of emotion for this team for the rest of the season, and that could propel them to a championship. The fire was already there for the will to repeat as champions, but the motivation from seeing Peters fight cancer might be a greater force.
3. Ohio Bobcats (14-5, 4-2), LW: 4
Last week: Bowling Green (L), at Eastern Michigan (W)
This week: Central Michigan (1/29), Toledo (2/1)
It was looking like an awful week for the Bobcats, but an almost-improbable come from behind victory at Eastern Michigan salvaged the week (and maybe the season). The Bobcats could have folded after a bad loss to BG and a terrible first thirty minutes against Eastern, but to their credit they fought back and turned it around. They get the opportunity to pick up two home wins this week, and the game against Toledo will be huge.
4. Western Michigan Broncos (11-7, 4-2), LW: 7
Last week: at Kent State (W), Ball State (W)
This week: at Buffalo (1/29), Central Michigan (2/1)
The Broncos get the benefit of teams ahead of them losing while taking care of business against lesser teams. I'm still not quite sure what kind of team the Broncos are, but I know if they can be the team that beat Toledo at home or Kent State on the road they'll be a tough out. Shayne Whittington is just overpowering everyone right now and it'll be fun to see him an Javon McCrea go at it on Wednesday.
5. Buffalo Bulls (10-6, 4-2), LW: 2
Last week: at Ball State (L), at Northern Illinois (W)
This week: Western Michigan (1/29), at Bowling Green (2/2)
The Bulls drop after a bad loss to Ball State. To be a contender you need to win the games you are supposed to on the road, and losing to bottom feeder Ball State doesn't help. They bounced back over the Huskies, but need better performances out of non-McCreas. The Western Michigan game may tell us a lot more about the Bulls, as those two teams are pretty much the same team. The BG game is sure to be a dogfight as well.
6. Eastern Michigan Eagles (11-8, 3-3), LW: 5
Last week: Akron (L), Ohio (L)
This week: Bowling Green (1/29), at Miami (2/1)
Last week I said that the past week was the most important week in Eastern Michigan basketball so far this year, and the Eagles really blew it. The loss to Akron was excusable, but being up double digits on Ohio nearing the end of the game and losing shouldn't happen. Morale can't be very high in the locker room right now and Bowling Green comes to Ypsilanti in a key match-up for seeding. As we've seen so far Miami is no slouch either, so for the Eagles to keep up they'll need to win both games.
7. Kent State Golden Flashes (11-8, 2-4), LW: 6
Last week: Western Michigan (L), at Toledo (L)
This week: Northern Illinois (1/29), Akron (2/1)
The Flashes needed to beat Western but got manhandled and now sit at a very unfamiliar 2-4 in conference play. The Flashes have a good team but just can't put together a full game. They (should) get a victory against the Huskies but a stiff test awaits on Saturday as Akron comes to the M.A.C. Center.
8. Miami RedHawks (8-9, 4-2), LW: 8
Last week: Central Michigan (W), at Bowling Green (W)
This week: Toledo (1/29), Eastern Michigan (2/1)
Miami continues to surprise, playing well against good teams and beating teams they should. It's odd to see them at 4-2, but it's really a product of their schedule. They've played Central Michigan twice already and the other two wins were against Bowling Green and Ball State. If they can knock off Eastern or Kent I would move them up, but I just don't see that happening right now.
9. Bowling Green Falcons (9-10, 3-3), LW: 9
Last week: at Ohio (W), Miami (L)
This week: at Eastern Michigan (1/29), Buffalo (2/2)
This is an odd team to say the least. Last week really showed that when the Falcons won at Ohio but couldn't follow that performance up in a home loss to Miami. They've also beaten Western Michigan on the road but lost at home to Northern Illinois. This week provides two tough tests, but if the team that beat Ohio shows up twice in a row they could come away with an undefeated week.
10. Northern Illinois Huskies (7-11, 1-5), LW: 10
Last week: at Toledo (L), Buffalo (L)
This week: at Kent State (1/29), at Ball State (2/1)
The Huskies continued their difficult beginning stretch of the conference schedule with losses to two of the best teams. Things get a little easier this week visiting Kent State and Ball State. This team is starting to come around and could surprise some people over the next few games.
11. Ball State Cardinals (4-13, 1-5), LW: 12
Last week: Buffalo (W), at Western Michigan (L)
This week: at Akron (1/29), Northern Illinois (2/1)
Ball State picked up an upset victory over Buffalo but couldn't follow that up with a win at Western Michigan. The game at Akron will be really tough to win, but the Cardinals should beat Northern Illinois.
12. Central Michigan Chippewas (7-11, 0-6), LW: 11
Last week: at Miami (L), Akron (L)
This week: at Ohio (1/29), at Western Michigan (2/1)
It hasn't been a good year for the Chips, and it didn't get any better last week. With the upcoming schedule being as tough as it is, it may be awhile before they win their first game.