The Buffalo Bulls were one half of the improbable NCAA run last season where the MAC not only saw two teams get into the tournament, but both made the sweet 16. The Bulls will probably have a little easier time repeating their division championship than the Central Michigan Chippewas, however it will not be a stroll in the park. Here are my predictions for the MAC East.
#6 Bowling Green Falcons
Gone from last season’s 11-19 squad is leading scorer Carly Santoro, the only Falcons to average in double digits. Sydney Lambert returns, however, and she averaged 9.9 points per contest. Santoro was also the leading rebounding, but the Falcons have some younger players that have some nice height. Where they really struggled was putting the balli n the basket. For the Falcons to have a break out year, they will need a player like Caterrion Thompson to lean on when the buckets just aren’t falling. She showed flashes last season of being that type of scorer.
#5 Akron Zips
The Zips finished last season 9-21 overall and only managed 3 wins in conference play. However, Shaunay Edmonds showed that she could be a leader at the point guard position, in a point guard heavy league. Leading scorer Megan Sefcik also returns, and might produce more than the 11.9 points per she did while playing a full season. Haliegh Reinoehl was the third leading scorer on the squad, and also returns. While I don’t know if it will quite be the same as Megan Duffy’s squad in Oxford last season, I do think the Zips will be much improved in coach Melissa Jackson’s first season.
#4 Kent State Golden Flashes
I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted a player to break out on season as much as I want Alexa Golden to this year. She showed some flashes last season, but struggled to shoot from the floor. She still manged to average 6.8 points per game. In fact, 3 of the top 5 leading scorers from a year ago return. Jordan Korniek was one of the best players in the league last season, and she does not. However, there were plenty of times last season where I felt the Flashes stood around and watched their all star do her thing. I believe this team has the talent that when forced to play, will do a better job of producing points.
#3 Ohio Bobcats
This will be a top heavy division, starting with the Ohio Bobcats. 4 Bobcat’s averaged over 9.6 points per game last season, and all 4 return. Only Dominique Doseck is a senior. Cece Hooks and Gabby Burris are sophomores, while Amani Burke is a junior, so this team will be a force to watch next year, too. If it wasn’t such a loaded league, I would go ahead and say this team will compete for a spot in the NCAA. Instead, I have them ranked third in their division, though would not be surprised in the least if they exceed those expectations. The main reason I don’t have them higher is because they struggled to rebound last year, and I don’t see that changing. It’s still early, though.
#2 Miami RedHawks
Wow. That’s the appropriate word to use when talking about the turn around the RedHawks had under first year coach Megan Duffy. Feisty 5’3 guard Lauren Dickerson is the heart and sole of the team, and a MAC Player of the Year Candidate to be sure. She is learning that she doesn’t have to do it all herself, and has been improving each season. Her coach was a star point guard as well, and I expect huge things from a guard that averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists. Duffy does a good job of letting her play and steering more than directing.
Duffy juggled the starting lineup quite a bit last season, and thus a lot of returning players saw significant action, including second leading scorer Kendall McCoy. The team finished with a 12-6 record last season, and I expect them to be much better than last year, and compete with Buffalo for the top spot.
#1 Buffalo Bulls
Normally I would ding a team for losing players like Stephanie Reid and Cassie Oursler, but this team was exceptionally loaded last season. Cierra Dillard was absolutely fantastic last year, and has players like Summer Hemphill and Autumn Jones to help. I thought about putting Miami at the top spot, but I deferred for two main reasons. The clutch play of Cierra Dillard to be sure, but the overall depth of the team from a year ago was a bigger factor. Theresa Onwuka showed great potential as a freshman, but fell by the wayside because of all the talent. I wouldn’t be shocked to see her and/or many others step up and play a major roll this season.