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Ye Olde Roundtable: MAC Tourney Time

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Our panelists discuss whether Buffalo winning the tourney benefits the conference and which sleeper team can make a run.

James H, Jimenez

Does Buffalo losing in the MAC tourney benefit or hinder the conference?

James Jimenez (@AVKingJames): It’s a double-edged sword. If Buffalo loses early, it could be used as a mark against them. If they lose late, probably not. Regardless, the MAC is going to root for one of the high seeds (probably Toledo or BG) to get to the final and secure a spot for Buffalo at the very least. If a lower-seed makes a run and gets all the way against Buffalo, then the MAC would find itself in significantly difficult waters.

James Snyder (@morefball): It helps the conference on two fronts. One, it will send a second team to the NCAA tournament. Two, it perpetuates the idea that anything can happen in this zany conference. The #MACtion brand would be alive and well.

Dave Drury (@DDrury86): I would say it hinders the conference. Buffalo has been the cream of the crop in MAC sports this year and any loss certainly hurts. In basketball maybe not nearly as much as in football, but, anytime a mid-major school (that’s not named Gonzaga) loses to another mid-major team it makes voters/media step back and say, “see I told you they weren’t that good.”

Steve Helwick (@s_helwick): It hurts the conference because Buffalo hasn’t completely “arrived” yet. For example, Gonzaga had to build years of tournament reputation before losing to St. Mary’s in the WCC Tournament was deemed acceptable. Once Gonzaga built such a powerful brand over the years, the rest of the WCC (especially St. Mary’s) gained respect for beating the Zags. Buffalo needs Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight appearances first, or else a MAC team beating Buffalo emits the national perception that the Bulls were undeserving of their ranking, whether it’s true or not. A 2-bid MAC sounds nice, but it would be forgettable if the second bid just dissolves to a 2 or 3 seed in the Round of 64.

Ken Bailey (@michexposures): I think it depends on where Buffalo loses. If they lose in the semis or finals, they still go dancing as they’ve got a pretty impressive résumé up to that point.


Which .500 or below team (Eastern Michigan, Ball State, NIU, Western Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio) could you see making a run in the conference tournament?

Jimenez: I think NIU is the likeliest team. They’ve got a fairly favorable draw and they’re on the right track momentum-wise; they’ve jumped three seeds in one week for a reason. Their game against Central showed a ferocity on the boards and offensive awareness that could take them places.

Snyder: Any of those teams could make a run. If I had to pick, Ball State. They have the talent and have shown flashes at times this season.

Drury: I would say Eastern Michigan has the best chance at making a late run. Paul Jackson has been playing really well lately, and with him and Elijah Minnie, there’s a reason the Eagles have won six of their last nine games.

Helwick: Eastern Michigan has been hot lately. The Eagles picked up a strong win over 2-seed Toledo in mid-February and played the Rockets close on the road in the finale. Eastern Michigan hosts its first round matchup and wouldn't run into Buffalo until the championship round. James Thompson IV is also a monster on the boards (14.8 RPG in last five games) and teams will struggle containing him down on the block.

Bailey: As much as I would like to say EMU, I don’t see it happening. They have been way too inconsistent in the games I’ve been to. Even in the Friday night finale, they started out pretty well and then went flat. If they run into a hot 3-point shooting team, they’re done. Their zone does not like that.


What seed do you envision Buffalo drawing in March Madness, and what is an ideal matchup for the Bulls in the Round of 64?

Jimenez: The Bulls will likely draw a 6-seed, and that’s perfectly fine considering how they’ve performed this season. (A 6-seed places them as 21-24 overall in terms of placement.) In terms of an ideal matchup, it’s always nice to collect a win over a Power Five school which got in as an at-large, just to dunk on the haters. It’s more likely, however, they’ll draw a decent good mid-major tournament champion.

Snyder: Obviously their MAC tournament performance affects things. If they win the MAC, then I would think they would garner a 6 or 7 seed. There is the potential they will either get a well respected mid-major, or a power conference team that isn’t a traditional power or down on their luck. It’s my hope they get the last of these options.

Drury: I would love to see the Bulls as a 5-seed in the tourney… but I feel like they’ll have to win out for that to happen. If they lose, I could see them dropping to a 7 or 8 seed. I think a matchup with New Mexico State or Belmont would be ideal for the Bulls moving forward. But even a game against Vermont or Arizona State would be a nice matchup for Buffalo.

Helwick: Buffalo is No. 18 in the AP Poll, so a 5-seed seems logical for the Bulls if they win the MAC Tournament. But forget logic when it comes to March Madness seeds — Buffalo is getting a 6-seed... and that’s okay. That just means the Bulls can avoid a 2-seed until the Sweet Sixteen and a 1-seed until the Elite Eight, if Nate Oats’ team can spark a run this year. As for an ideal opponent, the correct answer is Arizona State. The Sun Devils will be around an 11-seed and their head coach is former Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley, the man who set the foundation for this program. Plus, Buffalo has a good tournament track record against teams from The Grand Canyon State.

Bailey: If they win the tournament, I think they get a fairly high seed. Based on their ranking, I would say a 4 or 5 seed.


The first round of the MAC Tourney is played on the campus sites. What’s your favorite court design in the MAC?

Jimenez: The NIU court is so ugly, it’s charming. But I think Miami’s court is best. It’s simple and engaging, making excellent use of its color scheme.

Credit: miamioh.edu
Credit: stadiumjourney.com

Snyder: I like the Bobcats. Clean and to the point. Least favorite is Northern Illinois.

Credit: scolinssportsvenuesvisited.blogspot.com

Drury: I love the Huskies’ look. The black and grey between the 3-point lines, with angry blue Huskie eyes is certainly different, eye-catching, and pretty sweet. However, if Ohio went with this concept…I think they might have it though.

Helwick: I give Northern Illinois props for being bold and designing a non-traditional hardwood. However, I’ll go with the popular pick of Ohio. The Bobcats have the cleanest football uniforms in the conference and the best court. They just understand aesthetics in Athens, Ohio.