Last season ended with the Buffalo Bulls knocking off Arizona in the NCAA tournament, giving the Mid-American Conference as a whole momentum going into this season. So far the Bulls have performed possibly better than expected. They are currently ranked 17 in the AP poll. The rest of the conference has also seen some success, with only one team having a losing record. Now that most teams have around 8 games under their belt, we have decided to put out our first power rankings on the season.
Like most of the last few seasons, this team is loaded with potential and talent. They started off 3-0 on this season, but have dropped 5 of their last 6 and 4 in a row. The Eagles have been a streaky team before, so there is no reason to throw in the towel for EMU faithful this early in the season. James Thompson IV and Elijah Minnie are both potential first MAC performers, and have yet to really get their feet under them this season. I would probably throw in the towel on the 2-3 zone, though, but that’s just me.
Overcoming the loss of Thomas Wilder was always going to be an issue. This team has been up and down as it struggles to find themselves. There are certainly reason to be optimistic in Kalamazoo. Seth Dugan is currently averaging 19 points and 10.5 rebounds in his new role as full time center. Josh Davis, Jared Printy, and Michael Flowers are capable on the outside of helping Dugan get the ball, as well as scoring on their own. This team has a lot of nice pieces to the puzzle, they just need to figure out where they fit best.
#10 Miami RedHawks
Much like the entire bottom third of the conference, the RedHawks have shown potential as they manage their non-conference schedule. Most of these teams have also taken some Ls from really talented teams. In the case of Miami, they lost to Butler and Xavier, traditional mid-major powers. Nike Sibande has continued where he left off in his MAC Freshman of the Year campaign, scoring 17.1 per so far on the year. Bam Bowman, Dalonte Brown, and Darrian Ringo all give this team a load of potential for the season.
Same story, 4th verse. Justin Turner, Demajeo Wiggins, and Dylan Frye for a great core that could potentially be a contender for a first round bye in the MAC tournament. They haven’t quite put it all together this season, but the season is still young.
Again, another team with a solid core. The reason I put this particular team at the “head of the rest” is because we expected them to be absolutely awful this year. Eugene German and Levi Bradley are playing at an exceptionally high level, which was expected. Dante Thorpe is giving 12 per, again expected. Lacey James is averaging 10 points and nearly 8 rebounds per contest, which maybe wasn’t. Any or all of these teams could be contenders for second place in the MAC by season’s end.
If you just look at record, this is an easy team to slot. However, their losses came early, against ranked Purdue, ranked Virginia Tech, and Alabama in consecutive games. Also, center Trey Moses, an integral part on both sides of the floor, has been playing himself back into form after surgery. While a bit of a stretch when I put them number 1 to start the season, it really wasn’t that huge of a stretch. 8-12 on the list has shown potential. Starting with Ball State, they are starting to live up to it. With Valpo and Loyola Chicago still on the schedule, the Cardinals might not have the non-conference record of a contender in the west, but they certainly are.
I am least confident of where I have the Chippewas than any other team in these rankings. Larry Austin Jr. is leading CMU with 19 points per game. I don’t really have a feel for the game of this 2 time transfer, as the Chippewas schedule has been relatively weak. He certainly has shown the potential to be the engine that drives this team to contender in the west.
#5 Akron Zips
This team is looking really good early this season when you consider that they really haven’t been knocking down their threes like they are capable. Let’s be honest, this team like to play defense and chuck up threes. When those threes are dropping, this team is actually scary good.
#4 Ohio Bobcats
It was a coin flip between Ohio and Akron, and I gave the nod to Ohio mainly on their trouncing of rival Marshall. The Bobcats front court is talented and deep, and Teyvion Kirk has shown the potential of being a MAC Player of the Year. If a second guard steps up, they really could end up competing with anyone in the league.
The Rockets have a lot of talent and a lot of scoring. Their only loss on the season was to solid Wright State team that was hitting their shots. The rest of the non-conference schedule is manageable for the Rockets, but most of the opponents are not easy outs. In other words a good litmus test for this team. If this team is sitting at 11-2 or 10-3 going into conference play, watch out.
Kent State’s only loss is to the Liberty Flames. The Flames have two losses, Georgetown and Vanderbilt. The Golden Flashes beat Vanderbilt. Jaylin Walker has only played in the last three games, starting with Vanderbilt. He is averaging 24.3 points in those three games. What does that really mean? Kent is really good. They are a deep team with many players that can light up the score board.
#1 Buffalo Bulls
7-0 and ranked in the top 20 in the AP and coaches poll is a good way to start the season. Along with knocking off a then ranked WVU, the Bulls beat a previously unbeaten San Fran team in their last game. Loaded with talent, the Bulls are rolling.
Overall as a conference, there have been a few signature wins and a good record. The top three teams are currently sitting at a combined 21-2. No team has looked terrible, with the only team that currently has a losing record having one of the highest ceilings. This is shaping up to be a fantastic year of basketball in the Mid-American Conference.