The MAC semifinals will take place Friday, March 9th in Cleveland, Ohio. Both games will be available on ESPN 3. The first contest will be between the 4th seed Miami RedHawks and the number 1 seed Central Michigan Chippewas. Tip-off for that game is 11:00 AM. The second game will pit the number 6 seed Western Michigan Broncos against the number 2 Buffalo Bulls. That game will be at 1:30 PM.
With Ball State’s loss in the quarterfinals, it’s likely they are out of the NCAA picture. The Bulls are sitting at number 20 in the RPI rankings, while Central Michigan is at 24. Ball State fell to 44. Miami is 75 and WMU is 96. Both are pretty solid wins and should help ensure the MAC is a two-bid league, as long as the finals are Buffalo and Central Michigan. If either is upset, things could get dicey.
Miami RedHawks Vs. Central Michigan Chippewas
The Chippewas have been great all season, as expected. They have only lost 1 conference game and 4 overall. All close games, all to quality opponents that are in the top 75 of the RPI.
Miami brought in a new coach and have exceeded most expectations. They started off the season playing fairly well, and then hit a rough patch in their schedule where they lost to CMU, Buffalo, Ball State, and EMU at the tail end. They then split a pair of games before closing out the regular season winners of 10 of their last 11 and they knocked off Ohio in the quarterfinals to reach this game.
If the Chippewas have a weakness, it’s their bench. All 5 of their starters average in double digits. However, those 5 starters are some of the best players in the conference. They are led in scoring by Tinara Moore, who is one of the twin towers, along with Reyna Frost. They combine to score more than 31 points and 20 rebounds per contest. Point guard Presley Hudson is averaging 18.3, while Cassie Breen and Micaela Kelly are also potent offensive weapons.
Miami is led by sophomore point guard Lauren Dickerson and her 19.8 points per game. Kendall McCoy is the only other starter in double digits, but they have 8 people with starts this season.
Dickerson is a scrappy player that can frustrate the Chippewas and take them off their game on both sides of floor, and with a deeper bench. While I expect Central Michigan to roll, if the RedHawks stick around and stick around, don’t be surprised if they pull off the upset.
Western Michigan Broncos Vs. Buffalo Bulls
The Bulls are a loaded team that has had a fantastic season. Buffalo had to replace JoAnna Smith and did a pretty good job with transfer Cierra Dillard, who is averaging 14.5 points per game. Stephanie Reid is a point guard’s point guard, who is relentless. In addition the Bulls have a variety of players that are capable scorers while also on the taller side.
The Western Michigan Broncos are led by Breanna Mobley, who averages 16.2 points and 18.3 rebounds per game. Deja Wimbley adds 11.9 points per, while Marley Hill adds an even 10.
The Broncos are a methodical team that likes to wear their opponents down. They play solid defense forcing teams to make plays and has a nice inside presence. The problem is that Buffalo has a veteran team that is very good at handling the ball and enough length that will allow them to not get bullied inside. Buffalo won the first match-up on the season pretty easily, and I expect the same here. Of course it’s tournament basketball, so anything can happen and it’s rarely as it should be.