The Mid-American Conference women’s basketball teams took on three undefeated power conference teams on Sunday, and managed to get one win.
Kent State’s Katie Shumate was big down the stretch, and Corynne Houser hit the go-ahead layup with four seconds and change remaining to knock off the previously unbeaten Oklahoma State. Shumate finished with 23 points in the 59-56 victory. While the Golden Flashes are only sitting at 2-2 early in the season, they have six winnable games left before the start of conference play. As a bonus, those two losses are to power conference teams, which could put Kent State in a decent position for the NET Rankings come January.
The Toledo defense looked great against Duke at Savage Arena. Sadly, their offense was, quite frankly, offensive. The Rockets fell, 58-41, for their first loss on the season. They have a couple big match-ups left in their seven remaining non-conference games, including Penn State and a 23r- ranked Michigan team. If their defense continues to remain great, and their offense looks more like they did in their 3 previous wins, then this Rocket team could also be in a solid position entering into MAC play.
Ball State went toe-to-toe early with ninth-ranked Notre Dame. Then Dara Mabrey happened. The Irish senior hit her fifth three pointer of the game early in the second period, which put Notre Dame up big and basically knocked the Cardinals out early. The loss moved Ball State to 2-2, but I was impressed with how solid they looked on offense at times. Notre Dame’s offense is loaded, however, and I don’t think they will stay at #9 for long. So the lopsided 95-60 loss doesn’t bother me all that much.
Overall, the current situation in the MAC is optimistic. Eastern Michigan is the last MAC team to remain unbeaten on the season, and there are some other squads that look good, like Bowling Green, sitting at 3-1 with their only loss to a ranked Indiana.
The top half of the MAC looks good early in the season, though the bottom half is struggling, which will hurt the conference overall in the NET rankings. Bottom line, the MAC isn’t out of the two-team NCAA tournament race, and could really be helped by one of their top teams pulling off a big upset prior to conference play.