With each new week of conference play comes a fresh start for all 12 MAC teams.
Two games. Two opportunities to win.
For the teams which succeeded in the first week of MACtion, the second week of play was an opportunity to build on their success. On the other hand, the programs which did not storm out of the gates could use the second week as a chance to find the right track early.
Each team attempted to take advantage of the opportunities this week presented, and MAC fans were treated to fourteen 20+ point individual performances, an overtime thriller, come-from-behind wins, and a game between some of the conference’s best.
1st — Kent State (4-0 MAC | 14-3 overall)
- 1/10: 75-63 W vs Toledo
- 1/13: 70-65 W @ Ohio
Much like last week, Kent State received a strong effort from both of its opponents, but its experience prevailed in close wins.
Tuesday’s win over the defending league champions, Toledo, was a statement victory, and solidified the Golden Flashes as the current team to beat in the MAC. Ball State transfer Miryne Thomas shined in both games this week, as he recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds against Toledo, and 17 points and 9 rebounds versus Ohio. These two wins elevate the Golden Flashes to 4-0 in MAC play, which marks the program’s best start to the conference season since the 2005-06 campaign.
Rob Senderoff’s squad also received national attention for their success, as Kent State received eight votes in the most recent AP poll.
T-2nd — Ball State (3-1 MAC | 12-5 overall)
- 1/10: 71-76 L @ Ohio
- 1/14: 75-61 W vs Miami
Ball State cruised into the second week of conference action with two impressive MAC wins and a seven game win streak. However, the Cardinals momentum came to a halt with a disappointing road loss against Ohio on Tuesday. The wheels came out from under Ball State in Athens, as it saw a 14 point lead slowly dissolve, the second time this has occurred for Michael Lewis and company this season. Despite this setback, the Cardinals rediscovered their winning ways with a wire-to-wire win against Miami on Saturday. There is still much basketball to played, but the Cardinals look poised to record their first winning record in MAC play since the 2019-20 season.
T-2nd — Akron (3-1 MAC | 11-6 overall)
- 1/10: 74-70 W @ BGSU
- 1/13: 104-67 W vs EMU
The Akron Zips played their first two MAC games without their backcourt leader, Xavier Castaneda, and their offense struggled at times as a result. With Castaneda returning to join star forward Enrique Freeman this week, the Zips played some of their finest basketball of the season, and soared to two impressive wins. Most notably, Akron’s nationally-televised win against Eastern Michigan on Friday was its highest-scoring game of the season, and it was the program’s largest margin of victory in a MAC game since 2009.
Castaneda and Freeman proved why they are among the MAC’s best, as the duo combined to score 37 points against Bowling Green, and 43 against EMU. Their continued contributions will be crucial to the Zips’ journey to repeat as MAC tournament champions.
T-4th — Toledo (2-2 MAC | 11-6 overall)
- 1/10: 63-75 L @ Kent State
- 1/14: 84-67 W @ NIU
After a close loss to Ball State in their MAC opener, it felt as though the Rockets needed a strong second week of conference play to regain their confidence and status as the MAC’s finest squad. Although Toledo picked up a convincing road win at Northern Illinois, its loss at Kent State was a tough blow to take. Tod Kowalczyk’s unit’s season is far from over, but for a program that has been a model of consistency in recent seasons, two early losses against the league’s top teams is not the start that Rocket fans were anticipating.
On a more positive note, the Rockets have found a way to disperse their offense production well, which was exemplified through four players scoring 15+ points in Saturday’s win at NIU.
T-4th — Buffalo (2-2 MAC | 8-9 overall)
- 1/10: 80-91 L @ Miami
- 1/14: 78-87 L (OT) @ CMU
Following a strong 2-0 burst out of the gates, Buffalo was one of three MAC teams to drop both of its contests this week. Not only did Jim Whitesell’s group lose two games, but it lost two extremely winnable games.
Both of the Bulls’ losses this week told a similar story: excessive turnovers led to missed offensive opportunities and vulnerability in transition, and poor three-point shooting numbers hindered their offense. In both games combined, UB accumulated 37 turnovers, and shot an abysmal 9-of-40 from beyond the arc. Buffalo has to clean up their offensive issues quickly, as it will face Toledo, Ball State, Kent State, and Akron in the final weeks of January.
T-4th — Bowling Green (2-2 MAC | 8-9 overall)
- 1/10: 70-74 L vs Akron
- 1/14: 92-108 L @ WMU
Like the Buffalo Bulls, Bowling Green’s impressive 2-0 start to conference action was succeeded by two losses this week. On Tuesday, the Falcons controlled the lead against an imposing Akron squad for nearly 24 minutes, but could not hang on to win in a back-and-forth second half. Then, BGSU dropped its second game of the week to Western Michigan in a disappointing fashion, after their 11-point halftime lead was erased.
Although both of these winnable contests slipped through the Falcons’ grasps, Bowling Green fans can find peace in their team’s offensive success. In both of this week’s games combined, Coach Huger’s team shot over 50 percent from the field, including exactly 50 percent from three-point range.
T-4th — Central Michigan (2-2 MAC | 7-10 overall)
- 1/10: 54-73 L @ NIU
- 1/14: 87-78 W vs Buffalo
This week for the Chippewas was a tale of two vastly different performances.
On Tuesday, without star guard Jesse Zarzuela, Central played turnover-ridden offense en route to a 19-point loss against a Northern Illinois team that dropped its first two MAC games by 25 points and 18 points, respectively. Tony Barbee’s team responded by knocking off Buffalo in a higher-scoring, overtime game.
Zarzuela, who hung 29 points on Buffalo in his return, will be critical to instilling consistency for this young CMU team.
T-4th — Western Michigan (2-2 MAC | 6-11 overall)
- 1/10: 85-79 W vs EMU
- 1/14: 108-92 W vs BGSU
Prior to this week, the Broncos had just one win against DI competition, and was searching for direction.
Western looked like a drastically different team this week in its two wins, and Dwayne Stephens seems to have found direction for his squad. The Broncos held off a struggling, yet talented Eastern Michigan team for its first win on Tuesday, and completed an impressive comeback against Bowling Green after trailing by 11 at the half. Their come-from-behind win was fueled by a 69-point second half performance, which is the team’s highest point total in a half this season by a wide margin.
Preseason All-MAC honoree Lamar Norman reached the 20-point mark in both games this week, and should be a much needed spark for the Broncos’ backcourt for the remainder of MAC play.
T-9th — Ohio (1-3 MAC | 9-8 overall)
- 1/10: 76-71 W vs Ball State
- 1/13: 65-70 L vs Kent State
The Bobcats’ first week of MAC play featured close games that were decided by less than 10 points, and their games this week followed this pattern.
On Tuesday, Ohio used a barrage of 3-point shots and tight defense to erase a 14-point deficit, and pulled out an impressive win against Ball State. However, OU did not have the same fortunes against the surging Kent State Golden Flashes, as it fell in a game that was closely-contested throughout.
Senior forward Dwight Wilson III played tough basketball in both games, as he scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Ball State, and put up 27 points and recorded nine rebounds against Kent State.
T-9th — Miami (1-3 MAC | 7-10 overall)
- 1/10: 91-80 W vs Buffalo
- 1/14: 61-75 L @ Ball State
The RedHawks, led by first-year head coach Travis Steele, competed in two different styles of games. Their Tuesday win versus Buffalo was a fast-paced, high-scoring affair which featured a stellar effort from beyond the arc, while their Saturday loss against Ball State was much slower-paced, and was a brutal shooting outing.
Despite the difference in pace and results for Miami, one thing was consistent this week: severe foul issues. Miami accumulated 26 fouls, and three of its players fouled out against UB. In the loss at Ball State, the RedHawks were whistled for 20 fouls, and although no one fouled out, three players reached four fouls.
Miami is a physical team that battles on the defensive end, but the RedHawks cannot sustain success if they continue to foul at this rate.
T-9th — Northern Illinois (1-3 MAC | 5-12 overall)
- 1/10: 73-54 W vs CMU
- 1/14: 67-84 L vs Toledo
For second-year head coach Rashon Burno and his inexperienced roster, this week was a step in the right direction.
Tuesday’s outing against Central Michigan was a game that the Huskies essentially controlled from start to finish, and it was just their second home win of the season for the NIU faithful to cheer on. The Huskies’ Saturday loss to Toledo may seem lopsided at first glance, but there is still much to commend NIU for.
In particular, NIU showed undying determination even when the score was not in their favor, as it outscored Toledo in the second half. This team seems to be on a new trajectory after this week, and it could grab some more wins in its rebuilding season.
T-9th — Eastern Michigan (1-3 MAC | 4-13 overall)
- 1/10: 79-85 L @ WMU
- 1/13: 67-104 L @ Akron
A team that has played one disappointing game after another, Eastern Michigan dropped two games this week.
The Eagles fell in an evenly-matched battle with in-state rival Western Michigan on Tuesday, and were obliterated by Akron in what was a highly-anticipated match-up nationally televised on ESPNU. EMU’s 37-point loss to Akron was its largest margin of defeat this season, and the 104 points it conceded is the program’s highest total against a MAC team since 2016.
Despite his high scoring averages, Emoni Bates has not been efficient for his squad, as he has made just 19-of-62 field goals through his first four MAC games. Stan Heath needs Bates and his fellow Eagles to score more efficiently to turn around their season.