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2021 MAC Men’s Basketball Preview: February 9

Breaking down all four of Tuesday’s games

NCAA Basketball: Kent State at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow features a full day of MAC basketball, with four games spanning the entire afternoon. We should have been treated to six games but, with the Eastern Michigan Eagles and Northern Illinois Huskies still struggling with Covid issues, their games against the Miami RedHawks and Toledo Rockets have been postponed.

Western Michigan Broncos (4-11, 3-7 MAC) at Buffalo Bulls (8-6, 6-4 MAC)

Game Info:
When: 2:00 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN+
Where: Alumni Arena — Buffalo, NY
Odds: Buffalo has a 90.0% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

The Broncos turned things around last week, as they ended their seven game losing streak and won both their games (at Bowling Green and at CMU). They’ll look to continue that upward trend, as they head to Buffalo to take on the Bulls, who are also surging at the moment, winning three of their last four games.

Greg Lee has averaged a double-double for WMU over the past week, with 16 points and ten rebounds per game while adding three assists.

While Jeenathan Williams still leads Buffalo in scoring (18.5 PPG), as of late it has been Josh Mballa standing out. Mballa is netting 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly three steals over the last three games for the Bulls.

The Bulls should come out of this one on top and keep their momentum going, while derailing Western’s winning streak.

WMU Broncos - 71
Buffalo Bulls - 83

Ball State Cardinals (7-9, 5-6 MAC) at Central Michigan Chippewas (6-12, 2-9 MAC)

Game Info:
When: 5:00 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN3
Where: McGuirk Arena — Mt. Pleasant, MI
Odds: Ball State has a 63.0% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

Ball State is coming off a massive win over Toledo last week, which ended a four game losing skid for them. The Chips, on the other hand, have now lost eight of their last nine, including five straight.

Ishmael El-Amin has stood out for the Cardinals as of late. He has scored ten or more points in five straight games and in two of those games he dropped 20+ points. However, against the Rockets he shot a lukewarm 23.1% (3-13 from the field) and will look to increase that here against the floundering Chippewas.

Despite CMU’s record, Travon Broadway Jr. has been lights out this season. In the last dozen games, he’s reached double digits eleven times. Over the past seven contests, he has averaged 21.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game.

Broadway Jr. will score and keep the Chips in the game but, in the end, Ball State will be just too much for CMU.

Ball State Cardinals - 77
CMU Chippewas- 69

Akron Zips (11-4, 9-3 MAC) at Ohio Bobcats (11-6, 7-4 MAC)

Game Info:
When: 6:00 p.m. EST
Watch: N/A
Where: Convocation Center — Athens, OH
Odds: Ohio has a 53.8% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

Unfortunately, what should be the best game of the day is the only one that is not televised. Akron, after losing to Toledo last Tuesday, bounced back against Kent State last weekend and have now won seven of their last eight games. Ohio has won five of their last six, including four in a row.

Loren Cristian Jackson continues to be the Zips biggest offensive threat. The senior guard has scored 30+ points five times this season and is averaging 21.3 PPG which is tied for best in the MAC. In fact, he’s reached 10+ points in every game but one this season...a nine point performance against EMU on January 26th.

For the Bobcats, Dwight Wilson III has been slowly increasing his point total over the past four games and is now close to Jason Preston for the top spot on Ohio’s roster. Preston still leads the team with 16.4 PPG but, over the past four games, Wilson III has been playing at a higher level. Since January 23rd, Wilson III is averaging 18.0 points per game and has also added eight rebounds per game.

Jackson is able to keep Akron in the game but the Bobcat duo of Preston and Wilson III are able to edge out the Zips.

Akron Zips - 84
Ohio Bobcats - 88

Kent State Golden Flashes (10-5, 7-4 MAC) at Bowling Green Falcons (10-8, 6-6 MAC)

Game Info:
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Watch: ESPN+
Where: Stroh Center — Bowling Green, OH
Odds: Kent State has a 54.8% chance to win according to ESPN’s BPI predictor

Kent State might have fallen in their last game to Akron but the Flashes have still won seven of their last nine contests. Bowling Green looked to be one of the better teams in the MAC when conference play began...but they have since dropped five straight games and six of their last seven.

This game also features two of the three leading scorers in the MAC, as Kent’s Danny Pippen (21.3 PPG, tied for first) goes against BG’s Justin Turner (20.2 PPG, third).

Pippen has scored at least 17 points in each of the last five games for the Flashes, scoring 34, 26, and 30 with a pair of 17 point performances bookend-ing those numbers. He’s also snagged at least 11 rebounds in four of the last five games and is averaging four assists in that time as well.

Turner, like Pippen, has three 20+ point performances in the last five games too. He is averaging 18.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists since January 19th.

BGSU needs Turner to have another great game to right the sinking ship but, look for Pippen to keep the Falcons down and get Kent State the win.

KSU Golden Flashes - 84
BGSU Falcons - 77