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MAC Men’s Basketball Weekly Preview: 12/9 thru 12/15

Everyone plays this weekend, and there are some huge games.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Every week during the season, I am putting together a list of games that I think are must watch. In the non conference schedule, it’s generally going to be the games that give the MAC a chance at 2nd NCAA bid or help with an NIT bid.

5 teams currently have some sort of shot to get a bid, and 2 of them have huge games. NIU could play their way into the conversation with a win over Minneosta. I’ll be previewing those 3 games, plus Miami’s game against IUPUI. I still don’t know what to think of Miami, with regards to the MAC season. This game might help.

Central Michigan Chippewas @ Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday, 12/10 @ 3pm

TV: BTN Plus

The potential to see a play like this should be enough to drive to Mount Pleasant to watch the game.

Illinois is a talented basketball squad, led by 6’6 guard Malcolm Hill. So far only two players have recorded 6 kenpom game MVPs this season, Hill and Marcus Keene. Hill is 59 points away from hitting the 1500 career mark, or less than three games going by his 19.8 points per game average this season.

Illinois comes into the game averaging 79.6 points a game while CMU is averaging 91.7. To say I expect a shootout would be an understatement. Illinois isn’t a particularly tall team, so CMU’s lack of height shouldn’t be a factor.

This game could be very important come tournament selection time. If Illinois is sitting there around the 20 win mark, and CMU is sitting around 25, this head to head result could be the deciding factor.

Akron Zips @ Gonzaga Bulldogs

Saturday, 12/10 @ 8pm


The Bulldogs are currently undefeated and ranked number 8 in the country. To say this would be a huge win for Akron and the conference is an understatement.

Gonzaga is beating teams by an average of 29 points a game on their home court. They are off to a 9-0 start and have 6 players averaging 9.7 points or more on the year. 4 players average over 5 rebounds a game, too. This is quality team, that plays team basketball. It’s a daunting task, to say the least.

Akron has similar depth, and is going to need all of it. Isaiah Johnson and Kwan Cheatham Jr. will have their hands full in the paint, as the Bulldogs have a couple of 7 footers that each average over 10 points a game.

The Zips are no slouches, and have the potential to hand the Zags their first loss, but it wont be easy.

Northern Illinois Huskies @ Minnesota Golden Gophers

Sunday, 12/11 @ 5pm

TV: Big Ten Network

Minnesota is sitting at 8-1 and it seems like they are an NCAA bubble team every year. A win here could put NIU on the map, so to speak. NIU currently sits at 4-4, after winning 21 games last season. If they want to take the next step, this is an opportunity to make it happen.

MInnesota isn’t particularly great this season, but they are a Big Ten team. They have 6 players averaging 8 or more per game, but only 1 shoots over 50%. They are led by Amir Coffey, a 6’8 freshman guard. This kid is going to be fantastic, but he isn’t quite the super star that he will be. If coach Montgomery’s squad can keep this kid in check, they have a chance.

Would a win here resonate nationally right now? Not really, but it could be important later in the season. If NIU racks up wins in the MAC West, then this game could be important to which post game tournament the Huskies are chosen for.

IUPUI Jaguars @ Miami Redhawks

Saturday, 12/10 @ 3:30pm


I have watched Miami exactly one time this season. I have actually watched the Jaguars more this season, as they have played the MAC a couple of times. In that one Redhawk’s game I have watched, I wasn’t impressed with anything, except Michael Weathers.

In fact, when discussing Miami basketball with our Miami guy, I generally just ask, “How did the one brother do?” After that, I don’t care.

Miami has a 4-5 record on the season, so I have decided to stop ignoring them.

I can’t tell you what I expect in this game, because I admit I haven’t been paying attention. Not that my opinion amounts to a hill of beans, but I will be watching this game. A win here would make me start paying attention to Miami basketball again. A loss, especially a bad one, and I will keep putting them at the bottom, or near bottom of my power rankings.

On this full weekend of MAC basketball, there are some intriguing match-ups, and these 4 games are going to get most of my attention. I’ll also keep tabs on Toledo at Marshall and NJIT at Kent State. Don’t laugh at the name, NJIT is actually a good team. I wont say this weekend will shape my opinion on the entire season, but it will go a long way in my assessment of the MAC so far.