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2021-22 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Review: Opening Week

Upsets and near upsets lead the week as the men of the MAC returned to the hardcourt.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Mid-American Conference basketball made its (mostly) triumphant return this week, as NCAA basketball tipped off as a whole on Nov. 9th.

With so many eyes still on the excitement of the MAC football schedule and the MACtion mid-week games, we don't want you to miss anything.

Here are just some of the results from the past week which are worth noting.

1. Northern Illinois beats Washington, Miami beats Georgia Tech

The basketball season got off to a strong start within the conference as both Northern Illinois and Miami pulled road upsets against major conference opponents.

NIU knocked off the Washington Huskies, 71-64 in a game which didn’t start until much of the MAC landscape was to bed. The victory represented a strong showing for new head coach Rashon Bruno, who was making his head coaching debut. The Huskies won behind 29 points from Trendon Hankerson, not bad for a team picked to finish last in the MAC.

However, the good vibes ended in Seattle as the Huskies would fall on the road to Indiana 85-49 on Friday night.

Miami traveled to Atlanta and upended the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 72-69 for a nice victory. Mekhi Lairy of Miami capped his 23 point night with a go-ahead bucket with just 15.8 seconds to play.

Miami would then blast Lamar University 104-75 to win their home opener and to improve to 2-0 on the week.

2. Akron almost beats Ohio State, Eastern Michigan almost beats Indiana.

While the MAC celebrated their early season successes, it could have been even better. Akron traveled in-state to Ohio State to face the 17th-ranked Buckeyes. The Zips would lose 67-66 with OSU scoring with just .03 seconds to play in the game. Ali Ali paced the Zips with 17 points and converted a key four-point play late in the game.

Akron would then beat Point Park in their home-opener by a score of 102-46.

Eastern Michigan kicked off the Stan Heath era in exciting style, winning the second half with a rally to lose at IU 68-62. They trailed 36-19 at the half, but came within a point in the second before the Hoosiers found some breathing room. Transfer Noah Farrakhan led the Eagles with 18 points, all in the second half.

The Eagles didn’t keep Stan Heath waiting long for his first victory as the won their home opener on Friday with a 103-98 double overtime victory against Illinois State, in what was arguably the most exciting game of week. They again had to make a comeback, this time from 16 points back as Monty Scott scored 28 points.

3. Jeenathan Williams goes for 32 points against #6 Michigan

It was a matchup of preseason favorites as the Buffalo Bulls traveled to Ann Arbor to face the sixth-ranked Michigan Wolverines.

Buffalo would fall to the Wolverines by a score of 88-76, but the game was closer than that with the Bulls pulling within five during the second half.

Buffalo’s Jeenathan Williams delivered the MAC’s performance of the week as he poured in 32 points, with eight boards on 14-22 shooting (2 of 5 from three).

It was Williams’ and Buffalo’s only game of the week.

4. Ohio with two strong mid-majors wins

No Jason Preston? No problem.

The Ohio Bobcats have picked up where they left off last season, when we saw them winning an NCAA tournament game over the then reigning champion, Virginia.

Ohio knocked off a strong Belmont program, 92-80. Belmont has made nine all-time NCAA tournaments, and won the Ohio Valley regular season title last year. Ohio was led by guard Mark Sears, who brought home 27 points and went four of four from three.

Ohio wasn’t done, traveling to Cleveland State to face the defending Horizon League champion Vikings.

Facing a school which was a tournament team a year ago, Ohio won 67-56 behind another 15 points from Sears.

5. Women’s hoops start strong in the MAC

The women’s hoops season is off to another predictably strong start with nine MAC programs undefeated, with another program (Eastern Michigan) at 1-1. Overall, the MAC is a combined 12-4 on the young season.

Expect the MAC to continue to be one of the stronger mid-major conferences in the women’s game.