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MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Preview: #11 Akron @ #6 Western Michigan

It’s the Zips and Broncos in an opening round MACtion tourney battle

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a season in the making but we are finally ready for postseason action with the opening round of the Mid-American Conference! Unlike many conference tourneys where every game is at one central location or only some teams make the conference tourney, each MAC squad makes the field. The other difference is seeds 5-8 host first round game at their campus. And thus, that’s the position that the 6th-seeded Western Michigan Broncos find themselves in Monday as they play host to the 11-seeded Akron Zips.

Western Michigan ended the regular season with an overall record of 17-14 and 9-9 in conference play. In its last game the Broncos fell to the Central Michigan Chippewas, 84-71 and have now lost two straight heading into the conference tournament. Despite the close, 2017-2018 was anything but disappointing. The 17 regular season wins are the most for the Broncos since 2014. Hosting a postseason game is becoming habit for the Broncos as WMU hosts the first round of the MAC Tournament for the third time in the last four years.

Hosting the opening round of the MAC tourney has been good to WMU. Since 2004, WMU has won five straight first round MAC Tournament games that have been played in Kalamazoo. This season the Broncos finished with a home record of 10-5, marking the ninth straight season WMU has collected double digit home victories.

Saturday’s loss wasn’t all bad for WMU, though, since with 5:18 left in the first half, senior guard Thomas Wilder recorded his 2,000th career point. Wilder joins David Kool as the only two players in program history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark. Wilder needs just seven rebounds to become the only current player in the NCAA to have 2,000 career points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists and 175 steals.

11-seed Akron begins their post season after compiling an overall record of 13-17 and 6-12 in conference play. Akron is coming off a thrilling 67-65 victory over rival Kent State on Friday but before that had lost four of the last five games.

The Zips are led by sophomore Daniel Utomi who leads the team and ranks eighth in the MAC in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Akron is averaging 72 points per game which ranks 11th in the MAC but is lethal from beyond the three-point line with 284 made three’s.

Monday night’s game will be a rematch of a January matchup between Akron and WMU. That first contest was a Bronco home win 87-75. The winner of Monday’s contest heads to Cleveland and Quicken Loans Arena for a match-up with No. 3 seed Eastern Michigan on Thursday, March 8.

Game Info
Start Time: 7:45PM
Television: None
Stream: ESPN3, pending cable provider