All 4 of the higher seeds won last night, and head to Cleveland to take on the top 4. The action starts at noon, and will last until bedtime, at least for this old geezer. There are some interesting story lines. The East faces the West in 3 of the match-ups. Two vs. three in POY voting are head to head, and many others, including the first game, which pits two rivals.
The first game of the day tips off at noon.
The rivalry was one sided this season, with Central Michigan winning both. The problem for Western Michigan is twofold. They like to wear opponents down, with steady play and by working the ball inside. A fast paced team like Central, that is second in the league in scoring, is always going to pose a problem for a team like that. Throw in Reyna Frost and Jewel Cotton, who are dominating players inside for the Chippewas and things look bleak.
All hope is not lost for the Broncos. Breanna Mobley and Meredith Shipman are both third team All-MAC this season, and capable of taking over a game. If they can get good performances from both of these players, or get some scoring from outside their top 4 scorers, they could make this a game.
Prediction: Central is too much for the Broncos down the stretch, and wins 85-75.
The game tips off 30 minutes after the first game ends.
This is a classic strength vs. strength match-up. The Huskies are a great scoring team, leading the second place team by more than 7 points per game. Ohio is third in scoring defense, but only 2 tenths of a point from first place.
Unlike a lot of teams that fit the mold of a high scoring team with a few starts and not much defense, the Huskies have 5 players that are averaging in double figures, and a 6th that is close. They are also statistically the best rebounding team in the conference.
Along with being a great defensive team, the Bobcats are a solid offensive team. Quiera Lampkins is averaging 19.9 points per game, and might feel slighted for not being named first team All-MAC.
Prediction: Northern Illinois pulls out an extremely close one, 85-83.
#7 Buffalo Bulls vs #2 Ball State Cardinals
The game tips off 30 minutes after OU/NIU.
Buffalo is a great defensive team and they have JoAnna Smith. Smith is not a consistent scorer, but when she is on fire, it’s fun to watch.
Ball State is a juggernaut that does everything well. They are third in the MAC in scoring, and 4th in defense. They are one of the better all around shooting teams, and are 5th in rebounding.
Led by Renee Bennett, who was first team All-MAC, they have 7 players that average over 6.2 points per game.
Prediction: Ball State should win by 10, but if JoAnna Smith is hitting and with the defense that Buffalo plays, anything is possible.
#6 Toledo Rockets vs. #3 Kent State Golden Flashes
This game tips off 30 minutes after Buffalo/BSU
Kent State won the only game between these teams this year by 10.
This is the hardest game for me to predict. Both teams have been streaky, and are currently on winning streaks. The Golden Flashes have won 7 in a row, and 9 out of ten. The Rockets have won 5 in a row, and 8 out of 9.
There are two things I look for in a game I can’t really decide who is going to win. Who has the better defense, and who has the best player? That doesn’t help me here.
Prediction: There are 4 great match-ups tomorrow, starting at noon. I am going to call off work, and enjoy them all.