As I sat down to write these power rankings, I realized just how talented this conference is yet again. Over the past 2 seasons, the MAC has sent 2 teams to each NCAA Tournament, collecting a total of 5 wins. Last season, Miami and Ohio were listed as 2 of the 4 closest teams to making the tournament. Change a handful of games, and the MAC very well could have sent 4 teams to one tournament! With the talent and coaching that returns this season, I fully expect the 2+ trend to continue. With multiple teams with big winnable games, this could be the year where the MAC turns the corner and establishes an even bigger reputation.
Here are our rankings going into the 2019-20 season. 2018-19 records are in parenthesis.
(9-21 overall, 2-16 MAC)
The Falcons return 4 of their top 5 scorers from a year ago. While the Falcons were bad last year, they weren’t terrible, they were just in a really tough conference. I expect a jump similar to what Eastern Michigan did last season. While the team will be improved, it might not be enough to climb them out of the cellar in a loaded league.
Breanna Mobley and Jordan Walker return after redshirting, and that could really help this team. I expect this to be a solid team. However, a solid team in the MAC might place you squarely in the cellar of our rankings. Mobley is an exceptional talent, and Walker showed great promise, so this team might also climb the rankings. This is the preseason, after all.
#10 Akron Zips
(16-14 overall, 7-11)
My number one source for all things Zips is exceptionally confident in this team. Not so fast! This team struggled to score last season and is losing Megan Sefcik and her 17 points per. There are pieces in place that could make for a huge rise out of this team, but 10 is where they will sit until we get some games in.
The Cardinals struggled last season in loaded West, but this team returns quite a bit of talent. If some leadership emerges, then look for this team to climb in our rankings.
With three returning starters that all averaged over 10 per, it would be easy to assume this team will contend for one of the 4 byes in the MAC tournament. However, they lost a lot of rebounding from a year ago, so I expect a slight slip. I have been wrong before.
#7 Miami RedHawks
The RedHawks lost a large portion of their roster, but return Lauren Dickerson and Savannah Kluesner. These two, plus a bevy of younger players ready to step up should make this a formidable team in coach DeUnna Hendrix’s first season. A slight dip in productivity means the RedHawks drop all the way to 7 in this exceptionally deep league.
The Eagles took a big leap last season, but that did not show in the record books. However, I expect coach Castro to prove just how improved this team is this season, hopefully starting with the season opener against ranked Michigan State...
Winners of 3 NCAA tournament games in 2 years, and the conference tournament last season, 5 might seem low. One doesn’t simply replace Cierra Dillard, however. This team might be the toughest to rank, because with players like Summer Hemphill returning, winning the conference is not out of the question.
#3(tie) Northern Illinois Huskies
I really struggled between Northern Illinois and Toledo. They are like mirror images of each other. Toledo can struggle to score, but plays great defense. The Huskies can score, but sometimes as the expense of defense. In the end, I just decided to give it a tie. Northern Illinois might return more talent, especially with Janae Poisson coming back after suffering a season ending injury just 4 games into last season. Any team competing for the top would not surprise me, but I expect the top 5 in these power rankings to be right in the thick of things in March.
#3(tie) Toledo Rockets
I really like this team and that starts with coach Tricia Cullop, the dean of MAC coaches. Point guard Mariella Santucci does all the little things a leading point guard should, except consistently knock down outside shots. That is where Sara Rokkanen will help. I also expect freshman Soleil Barnes to really make a name for herself being a kick out option this season.
I might have the Chippewas a little too high at number 2, season how they lost Reyna Frost and Presley Hudson, along with coach Guevara. However they return Micaela Kelly, so I think I have them right where they should be.
#1 Ohio Bobcats
Quite simply, any sane person knows that a 30 win team that had 14 conference wins in the MAC last season should have been in the NCAA tournament. Sadly, the Bobcats were not. They return a large portion of their roster, including PoTY candidate CeCe Hooks, Amani Burke, and Erica Johnson. The chip on their shoulder from being snubbed a year ago could put this team on another level.