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MAC Men’s Basketball Power Rankings: Three Classes Emerge

This season is setting up for a wild ride at the end!

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

I am going to do this week’s power rankings a little differently than just a number by a name and a few sentences. At this point in the season, there is a clarity that makes putting numbers on each team pointless. Think of me as Nemo or whatever his name was in the Matrix. All this data is flying by, but I am starting to see teams for what they really are.

For this power rankings, I will classify each team as a contender, semi-contender, or long shot. That’s the nature of basketball, because on any given day or whatever. Jimmy V and NC State don’t win the football national championship.

On that note, I want to add one thing about the MAC as a whole. Some will tell you the MAC is down, and depending on what matrix they are using (see what I did there?) they might be right. However, they might be wrong. This year has been exceptional in the fact that there is no terrible team. Miami did not pull off a miracle win against Buffalo. Miami is just a pretty good basketball team. Then again, maybe this season isn’t exceptional. Bottom feeders knocked off Akron at the end of last season, too. It’s a competitive league that is deep and this year it just might be one of the deepest.


The Contenders

Of course the Buffalo Bulls would be number 1 in a traditional power poll, but they are slipping a bit, much like Akron last season. It is still their conference to lose, but I am starting to see some bad habits creep back into their game, just like Akron last year. I wonder if Nate Oats will leave the conference if he doesn’t get the NCAA bid after losing in the MAC tournament, and then blame the conference for being a 1 bid league, just like Akron last year?

The Toledo Rockets are motoring along and loaded with talent. I will even venture to say there are some players that could end up playing a more pivotal role come tournament time than maybe they have played during the regular season. As the team learns how to play with Tre’Shaun Fletcher and his immense skill set, they just might start peaking at the right time.

Last, but not least, of this group are the Ball State Cardinals. I thought they would win the MAC. They have a lot of nice pieces in all the right places. However, they are still a little on the young side, and some of that talent is still waiting in the wings. Winners of 5 straight, I wouldn’t bet against them, however.


Semi-Contenders

The Western Michigan Broncos still might have the best player in the conference in Thomas Wilder. I have always kind of felt once he gets out of his own head, he will blow this league away. Mind you, he is already one of the best to ever play in this league but there is still a level that I believe he can reach. Even if he doesn’t, the fighting coach Hawkins still could make a run in the MAC tournament.

Like just about every other year, the Eastern Michigan Eagles teeter in this weird plane of existence that is somewhere near the best team in the conference and the worst. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, planted squarely in the middle of a 2-3 zone. Anywho, James Thompson IV is one of my favorite players in the conference, Tim Bond might be the most complete, and Elijah Minnie has added a nice element to this team. While I don’t believe in the 2-3 zone for consistency, I certainly wouldn’t want to play this team in a one off.


The Rest

My opinion of Bowling Green is very similar to Ball State, except they haven’t won quite as much. The talent is there, I like the coach, and there have been some flashes this season. Miami has made HUGE strides compared to last season, and without the twins. Kent has also shown flashes (pun intended) after winning the MAC last season, and coach Senderoff has shown a great ability to improve his team. I thought about including this bunch in the previous group, but I do believe they are a half a step behind.

The rest of the rest aren’t far behind, either. Ohio suffered injuries, Akron has talent and adjusting to the chuck and duck of Groce’s offense, CMU is actually playing defense, and NIU has Eugene German. There are aspects of all of “the rest” that gives me hope for the future, and even this season.