The Mid-American Conference released a number of preseason polls and ballots in preparation for the upcoming 2019-2020 men’s basketball season on Thursday morning, and amongst the biggest surprises was Bowling Green being tabbed by coaches as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament.
The Falcons find themselves in the unique position of being preseason favorites by quite the margin, a season removed from nearly upstting the nationally-ranked Buffalo Bulls in the championship game back in March 2019.
The Falcons received first place votes form half of the MAC head coaches in the preseason MAC Tournament winners poll (6), well ahead of rival Toledo (2) and the remaining selected winners (Miami, NIU, Buffalo, Kent State with one apiece.)
Michael Huger, in his fifth year as Falcons head coach, will look to lead his Falcons back to Cleveland for a historic run, and he will certainly have some help. Four of the five starters from last season’s 22-win team return, including 2019-20 preseason All-MAC East squad members in point guard Dylan Frye and shooting guard Justin Turner, as well as 10 letterwinners, making BG one of the deepest teams in the MAC.
The MAC East is a lot more wide open this season, as the rest of the MAC East in the midst of rebuilds or retooling, with Ohio and Buffalo getting first-and-second-year coaches acclimated and Miami and Akron going into pivotal year threes. Bowling Green was also tabbed a favorite to win the MAC East, collecting 69 points (nine first-place votes). Buffalo, back-to-back division winners, were second place with 58 votes (three first-place votes.)
A trip to the tournament would be truly historic for the Falcons, who haven’t been in March Madness in the modern era. In fact, their last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 1968, with a team led by future 30-year NBA head coach Bill Finch and wily veteran forward Walt Piatkowski (24 points per game, seven rebounds per game in ‘67-’68), who would go on to have a career in the American Basketball Association. To put that in perspective, the MAC wouldn’t hold a conference tournament for another 11 years and the NCAA Tournament had 23 teams in the bracket.
BGSU opens its season with an exhibition against Tiffin University on Nov. 5 at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.