The opening night of college basketball for the 2022-23 season ended and I was very happy.
Not only does this feel more like a “normal” season than the last couple, our beloved conference had some nice wins. While it would be easy for me to get overly excited about these wins, it is exactly what I am going to do.
First, one of the biggest question marks for me was just how the Buffalo Bulls were going to perform with all their new talent. At times, they looked like the keystone cops, and that is a good thing. They knocked off a very good Colgate team that was very polished and had made the previous two NCAA Tournaments. The Bulls looked long and lean and athletic. The Raiders dominated the boards while also shooting over 50% from the floor. Normally, that would be enough to garner the win, but not last night. Buffalo’s 88-87 hints that the Bulls are going to have a great season. As they get better at boxing out as a team, and switching on defense, those numbers will balance out, and the Bulls’ talent will pull out more than their fair share of victories.
College Insider had Northern Kentucky ranked 19th in their mid-major preseason poll, and Kent State was able to take the lead early and keep it all game in a dominant 79-57 win. Northern Kentucky didn’t fold to their credit, making it interesting at a couple of points, but overall the Golden Flashes looked like the superior team. Xavier Castaneda had a monster game with 31 points where he hit 61% of his shots, while also dishing 7 assists.
South Dakota State was ranked number 15 in the same poll mentioned above, but Akron was able to pull off an 81-80 win anyway. While this game was much more exciting, it was also a bigger test, at least in my mind. Toledo knocked off Valpo, which was a nice win, and Ball State destroyed Earlham. Both wins were expected and make the MAC look good at the top.
The sole loss out of the six MAC teams mentioned in the College Insider preseason poll was Ohio, which played Belmont, ranked #21. Ohio got down early, and managed to claw back before finally being defeated by a point. WMU lost by a point to Minnesota in what I wouldn’t consider a terrible loss.
Here is a full breakdown of the scores, with only CMU not playing.
- Toledo 85, Valparaiso 70
- Ball State 109, Earlham 39
- Akron 81, South Dakota State 80
- Buffalo 88, Colgate 87
- Kent State 79, Northern Kentucky 57
- Bowling Green 62, Air Force 58
- Eastern Michigan 75, Wayne State (MI) 66
- Belmont 70, Ohio 69
- Illinois-Springfield 83, Northern Illinois 77
- Evansville 78, Miami (OH) 74
- Minnesota 61, Western Michigan 60
Overall, I was impressed, especially with the top half of the conference.
This is going to be a great season, with a number of teams in that mid-to-high 20 win category. While there are a few ranked teams on the schedule, especially for Kent, the MAC needs to root for these recently defeated teams to go on a big of a rampage if it wants any chance at a second bid this season.