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Charting the 2020 Road to Cleveland: MAC Men’s Basketball Edition

One of our writers makes an attempt to sort out the road to Cleveland.

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Tournament - Buffalo vs Bowling Green Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It’s getting about that time of year where some people think about bracketology. That is is more complicated matter if you follow a conference that gets more than one team in the NCAA Tournament. Usually, there is only one MAC team that will make it to the Big Dance. And that team is the team that wins the MAC Tournament. The teams that have a bye have an advantage over the teams that don’t, so I will attempt to sort that out.

As in the past few years, the first four teams in the MAC Standings have a bye in the first round. Their first game in the tournament will be in the Quarterfinals in Cleveland. The rest of the MAC will play one more game at a campus location. And that is the campus of the teams that are fifth through eighth. So let’s start out with where we are and then we’ll go from there.

If the MAC Championship were today, this is how the standings would look (just MAC records, asterisk indicates top seed):

School MAC record
Akron * 10-3
BGSU * 10-3
NIU * 8-5
Buffalo * 8-5
-------------- ----------------
Ball State 7-6
Kent State 7-6
CMU 6-6
Ohio 5-8
EMU 5-8
Toledo 4-9
WMU 4-9
Miami 3-9

So Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Buffalo would all play their first game in Cleveland. Ball State would play Miami in Muncie. Kent State would play Western Michigan in Kent. Central Michigan would play Toledo in Mount Pleasant. Ohio would play Eastern Michigan in Athens, assuming this table stays pat.

Akron still has to play Miami, at Bowling Green, at Buffalo, Ohio and Kent State. In previous matchups, they’ve beaten Miami, Bowling Green and Ohio. Given that they beat Miami away, it’s probably a good bet they’ll beat them again. I’ll guess that since they are travelling to Bowling Green and Buffalo, they will probably lose those games. I’ll say they will beat Ohio and Kent State. This will make their final record 13-5, which means they will stay in the top four.

Bowling Green still has to play Ohio, Akron, at Miami, at Kent State and Buffalo. Out of that bunch, they have beaten Ohio, Miami and Buffalo. Since I said they would beat Akron above, I have to remain consistent and say that they will still beat them. They beat Ohio on the road, so they will likely beat them at home. They travel to Miami but Miami is not that good this year, so I suspect they will beat them. They lost to Kent State at home, so I’m guessing they will lose at Kent State. They beat Buffalo in Buffalo, so I suspect they will win again. This would make them 14-4 when all is said and done. This would be enough to put them in the top spot.

Northern Illinois still has to play Central Michigan, at Eastern and Western Michigan, Toledo and Ball State. Of that bunch, they have beaten Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Toledo. Since they are playing Central Michigan at home, I will say they will beat them. They are travelling to Eastern Michigan but they are facing a rising Eagles team, so I will say they will lose there. Western Michigan is falling, so I will say they will squeak out the victory in Kalamazoo. They already beat Toledo, so I suspect they will do it again. Leaving Ball State, I predict they will lose again. This puts their record at 11-7.

Buffalo still has to play at Kent State, at Ohio, Akron, Miami and at Bowling Green. They have beaten Ohio, Akron and Miami. Since I predicted they will beat Akron above, I’ll stick to that here. Since I said that Bowling Green will beat them, I will stick to that too. They beat Akron and Miami in those places, so I’ll say they will continue that trend. This leaves Ohio, I suspect Ohio may pull off the victory and this makes their record 11-7.

Ball State plays Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, at Toledo, Central Michigan and at Northern Illinois. They’ve beat Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Northern Illinois. Since they beat Eastern Michigan pretty soundly, I see no reason why they wont happen again. I suspect they will beat Western Michigan and Toledo. I also suspect they will beat Central Michigan. Since I made the prediction above, I will say they will beat Northern Illinois. This will make their final record 11-7.

Kent State still plays Buffalo, Miami, at Ohio, Bowling Green, and at Akron. They have beaten Buffalo, Ohio and Bowling Green. Since I made the prediction that they will beat Bowling Green above, I will keep that here. Since I also said that Akron will beat them, I’ll keep that here as well. I didn’t mention Buffalo above, but I will say they beat them. I think Ohio will sneak out a victory but Miami will lose. This will make their record 11-7.

Central Michigan still has six games left. They play at Northern Illinois, Toledo, at Miami, at Eastern Michigan, at Ball State and at Western Michigan. I already made two predictions above and those are losses against Northern Illinois and Ball State. Since they already lost to Eastern Michigan at home and Eastern Michigan is hot right now, I see now reason why they will beat Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti. I suspect they will beat Toledo, Miami and Western Michigan. This will make their final record 9-9.

Ohio still plays at Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, at Akron and at Miami. Of that bunch, they have only beaten Miami. Since I’ve already made the predictions above, they will lose to Akron and Bowling Green but beat Buffalo and Kent State. This leaves Miami but as I said above, Miami is not that good this year, so I predict Ohio’s final record will be 8-10.

Of the teams in the MAC, I think Eastern Michigan may very well be the wild card. After losing their first seven games in the MAC, they have turned it around by winning five of their last six. They play at Ball State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, at Western Michigan and at Toledo. Since I made the predictions above they will beat Northern Illinois and Central Michigan and lose to Ball State. Since they beat Western Michigan pretty handily, I don’t see any reason why they wont again. They lost to Toledo but it was pretty close if I remember. They are hot now, so I think they will beat Toledo. This will put them at 9-9.

Toledo still has to play at Western Michigan, at Central Michigan, Ball State, at Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan. They beat Western Michigan at home and expect they will do it again. I already made the predictions above, so I think Toledo will finish at 5-13.

Western Michigan still has to play Toledo, at Ball State, Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. Since I already made the predictions above, I think they will finish 4-14.

Since I made the predictions above, I expect Miami to finish 3-15. So what does all this mean. Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Buffalo all get byes. Ball State, Kent State, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan all host their first games. Miami, Western Michigan, Toledo and Ohio all travel to the above sites.