The Mid-American Conference won every game the first two days of the 2018-19 men’s basketball season, moving to 9-0 as a conference. They have this Thursday off before heading into a weekend that has several huge match-ups. There are several teams that could make a big move this season, and two of them play ranked opponents in winnable games. There are also a few other intriguing match-ups, plus three teams still have to make their season debut.
No team out of the MAC has the committee’s eyes more than the Buffalo Bulls. After winning their first round match-up in last year’s NCAA tournament, the Bulls have several votes in the AP poll, too. A win here would put the Bulls in the top 25, something that would be remembered come tournament time, even if they slip up once or twice this non-conference.
This game is at 9PM Friday on ESPNU, which means a national audience. Even just a close game could work in Buffalo’s favor by the end of the season.
The Cardinals played a solid Indiana State team in their opener. K.J. Walton had a slow start in his Cardinals debut. Trey Moses was on limited minutes coming off knee surgery. Kyle Mallers was o-fer from the floor and only managed 4 points. While not particularly great news for those kids that night, it is actually great news for Ball State fans. Pulling out a win with the limited production of those three stars means the Cardinals are loaded. Also impressive was the 21 point and 7 rebound performance from Tahjai Teague.
They take on the 24th ranked Purdue Boilermakers at 8PM on Saturday in a interstate rivalry game. The Boilermakers have Carsen Edwards, who put up 30 in their season opener. The 6’1 guard hit 7 of 11 attempts from downtown. While Edwards is a great player, this is a winnable game for the Cardinals, especially if Tayler Persons and company can keep Edwards somewhat in check.
The Rockets are the only team in the MAC West that have yet to make their 2018-19 debut. The Oakland Grizzlies are all over the MAC non-conference schedule, so this first game will be a good indicator of where Tod Kowalczyk’s team is at. The two teams square off Friday at 7pm, available on ESPN 3.
There are other key match-ups, like Western Michigan at Ole Miss and Bowling Green at Saint John’s. While I am under no illusion the MAC will finish the weekend still undefeated, I do believe with a couple key wins, there could be talk of just how talented of a Mid-Major they are this season. Talented Mid-Majors have the chance of a second team being selected to the NCAA tournament.