There is a full slate of #MACtion shooty hoops tonight. If the season ended this morning, there would be only 4 teams with a winning record, which would make the race for the 4 byes in the MAC tournament nice and neat. It’s never that easy, as a couple of 5-5 teams play in a key match-up, and no team is out of it yet. All games will be available for stream on WatchESPN, so if you have the app I think this would be a good time to flip through all the games to get an idea where every team is.
The two teams have identical records, 14-9 overall and 5-5 in the MAC. At this point in the season, I thought both teams would be a little farther along than they are. Both teams have a lot of young talent, and have shown flashes of the future this season.
Going into the season, the Cardinals were a little farther along and I believe that is still the case. They also had a complete clunker of a game against the EMU zone last time out, so I suspect multiple players will break out of that slump at the same time. Don’t be shocked if these teams are really good next season.
The Chippewas had a surprisingly good non-conference season. While they have come back to earth a bit during the conference season, they are still a better team than I expected. They are riding a 2 game winning streak and playing host to the Buffalo. However, I don’t think that will be enough against the Bulls. The Bulls last season showed all the talent in the world, but couldn’t quite put it together, especially on offense at times. This year they are much improved as a cohesive unit, so I look for them to be just fine against the Chippewas defense.
Akron Zips at Ohio Bobcats
Akron lost a coach and a bunch of players and are in rebuilding mode. Ohio looked like a good team to start the season before injuries took their toll, much like last season. That being said, this might be the most entertaining game of the night. Neither team is quite as bad as their record and have shown the ability to get going on offense. If both teams are clicking, expect this to be much more exciting of a contest than you would expect of two teams that combine for a 5-15 conference record.
Northern Illinois has struggled this season, however they have shown some flashes, especially Reggie German. On the other bench, the Toledo Rockets have gelled since the start of conference play in large part because of the play of transfer Tre’Shaun Fletcher. He is my current favorite for MAC Player of the Year. As the season progresses the Rockets will continue to gel as a team and will be a factor in the MAC tournament.
I am noticing a pattern with the Eagles. You can’t really tell how they will play week to week and James Thompson IV will likely get a double double regardless. The Golden Flashes turned it on at the end of the year last year to win the MAC tournament, and look to be on a similar trajectory this season. I give EMU the edge in this game unless Zabo and/or Walker are on fire. This is another important game. Both teams are hovering near the .500 mark both in conference and on the season, so this could be a nice confidence booster.
Miami RedHawks at Western Michigan Broncos
It was about this time last season that the Broncos really started to roll. Even though they are only 2-2 in their last 4 games, the Broncos have been playing good basketball. Those two losses were to Toledo and Buffalo, and WMU leader Thomas Wilder totaled 74 points. Even though he has been playing well all season, I still feel like he needs to break out and play more in the flow. The last 4 games, he has done a better job of it.
On the other side, Miami has been the surprise of the conference. They lost the twins and fired their coach, and currently are one of the 4 MAC teams with a winning conference record. Yet another big game for both teams in deciding which direction they will head down the stretch.