December is the final stretch before the MAC season begins, and there are some big games where a win is needed, if the MAC hopes to get more than their automatic bid to the big dance. So far, there are no signature wins that a MAC bubble team could hang their hat on come selection Sunday. That could all change this week.
Buffalo Bulls @ Saint Bonaventure Bonnies
Saturday, December 3, 4pm
I don’t know that a win over the Bonnies would be the push needed for a bubble team, but it wouldn’t hurt. We have the Bulls 3rd in our power rankings. A big reason why is because this is a game we expect the 4-3 Bulls to be able to compete.
My first impression of the Bulls this season was that it is an athletic team that is content to chuck up jumpers and hope for the best. Nothing has happened to change my opinion. I wouldn’t really mind, except the shots aren’t dropping.
Blake Hamilton is scoring 18.8 a game, but is only shooting 37.1% from the field. His 3 point shooting is a pathetic 28.6%. The next two scorers on the list aren’t much better, shooting 41.3% and 37.9% from the field. The next three scorers are shooting 70%, 63% and 87%. I am no coach, but maybe, just maybe, they should try to get those guys more attempts.
Against the Bonnies, I am going to be looking for the Bulls to get better shots, or for their jumpers to start dropping. If they don’t, they are going to start dropping in my power rankings.
The Bonnies have two big time players, Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams. Both score over 20 per, and do a variety of things to help the team win. This is a well coached team with a couple bona fide superstars. A win here would go far in helping overall the perception of the MAC. A win with better shot selection would go far in helping me believe this team is a contender for best in the MAC.
Akron Zips @ Creighton Bluejays
Saturday, December 3, 8PM
TV: Fox Sports 2
The Zips were the consensus number 1 in our first power rankings, dropped their first game to Penguins, and have been number 2 ever since.
Since that loss, they rattled off 6 straight wins, in large part because Isaiah Johnson is a beast at center. 6 Zips average 7.9 points per game or more, and none are averaging over 27 minutes per contest. Depth is also a positive, and Antino Jackson is scoring more points on three less shots per game than he did last season.
The Bluejays are an offensive juggernaut. Only one team has kept them under 80 all season. Defensive minded Wisconsin held them to 79. Then number 9 in the country, the Badgers lost by 12.
Freshman 7 foot Center Justin Patton is averaging 13 points per game. In 7 games, he has missed 10 shots. Total. It will be really interesting to see what the veteran Johnson can do against this kid.
Both teams are deep, and literally 6 or 7 guys on either team could be the difference maker.
Are the Zips the team that won 6 straight, or the team that lost to Youngstown State? This game could tell us. Then again, it could just show us that Creighton is really freaking good this year.
Bowling Green Falcons @ Cincinnati Bearcats
Sunday, December 4, 8pm
The Bearcats are sitting a 5-1, with their only loss to ranked Rhode Island by 5. They play 19th ranked Iowa State at 9pm tonight on the ESPN. 6 days after they play BGSU, they get ranked Butler. The ultimate trap game. Or at least I hope so.
Bowling Green has won 3 straight after dropping their first 4. Not just using wins and losses as the metric, the team is playing much better. The players are working together, and there is an identity that wasn’t there to start the season. They are fitting into their rolls and that’s good news for Coach Huger. Good enough to beat the Bearcats?
We shall see. This would be a HUGE win for Huger and the Falcons. Dare I say, I program building win? Sure. It would be that big.
Miami Redhawks @ Missouri Tigers
Tuesday December 6, 8PM
TV: SEC Network +
Mizzou isn’t great, sitting at 3-3. I get that. Their biggest “win” is a 1 point loss to 7th ranked Xavier. I get that too.
You know who else isn’t great? Miami. In fact, they are kinda terrible. Or at least I think they are. Michael Weathers might be the best player in the MAC, and this game could change my opinion of the entire team. I am aware CMU’s Keene is leading the country in scoring. Weathers does EVERYTHING.
A win here not only makes me take MU out of the gutter in the MAC power rankings, but might even move them in the top 8.
If I were going to sum up the MAC basketball season so far, it would be close. There are a lot of good teams, that just need to put the final pieces of the puzzle together. Unfortunately, if these teams wait till conference play, no one in the country, and more importantly, on the committee, will care.
This next week, and month, will be the deciding factor in getting 2 or more MAC teams into March Madness.