The conference slate of the MAC wrapped up Friday night with all 12 teams in action. Now, it’s officially conference tournament season.
The MAC Tournament begins with four games on Monday night. The first round, which features seeds 5-12, takes place on the teams’ individual campuses. Seeds 5-8 earn host duties for the opening round, while seeds 9-12 serve as the visitors. Teams that advance past the first round will be pitted against the top four teams (Buffalo, Toledo, Bowling Green, Kent State), which receive byes, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Thursday.
The full tournament bracket and schedule from MAC Sports is depicted below:
Central Michigan-Western Michigan, Akron-Miami (OH), Northern Illinois-Ohio, and Eastern Michigan-Ball State will kick off the festivities Monday night on ESPN+. The tournament remains visible on ESPN+ as the event permanently moves to Cleveland on Thursday, with Buffalo, Kent State, Toledo, and Bowling Green joining the party after a round of rest. Following a series of semifinal games on Friday, the all-important March Madness bid is on the line Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The No. 19 Buffalo Bulls skated away with their fifth regular season conference title since 2009, attaining a program-best 28-3 record while faring 16-2 against other MAC opponents. Only three teams in college basketball sport a better record than the Bulls’ impressive 28-3 mark: Gonzaga, Virginia, and Houston. Given Buffalo’s status in the AP Top 25 for a MAC-record 17-straight weeks and the teams’ near-immaculate record, the Bulls are a lock for March Madness no matter what happens in the MAC Tournament.
If Nate Oats and Buffalo win the tournament, the Bulls will be crowned conference tourney champions for the fourth time in five seasons. In the event a MAC squad knocks off Buffalo, the conference will earn two bids for the first time since 1999, when Kent State won the conference but Miami (OH) earned an at-large bid. MAC at-large teams have a good track record in the NCAA Tournament, as the 1999 Miami team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as a 10-seed.
Kent State is the last non-Buffalo winner of the MAC Tournament, claiming the crown as the conference’s No. 6 seed in 2017. The No. 1 overall seed has only won the tournament one time in the past four seasons (2018 Buffalo).