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MAC Men’s Basketball Review: February 13-19, 2023

This week of MACtion saw momentum swings that will impact the remainder of the regular season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 10 Toledo at Kent State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The third-to-last week of conference action featured clear risers and fallers across the MAC.

The league’s elites — Kent State, Toledo, and Akron — all maintained their footing at the top of the MAC with dominating performances.

Jeff Boals has his Ohio Bobcats playing some of the most impressive basketball in the conference as they added two more victories to their winning streak.

Despite dropping one of its games, Central Michigan also experienced a momentous week as it secured a much-needed victory to remain in the top-eight.

In contrast, other teams — especially Ball State, Northern Illinois, Buffalo, and Bowling Green — experienced setbacks with at least one disappointing outing.

This week’s momentum swings create intriguing storylines as the 2022-23 regular season enters its final stages.

Team Capsules

T-1st — Kent State (12-2 MAC | 22-5 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 10 Kent State at Cleveland State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 82-58 W @ Western Michigan
  • 2/17: 81-54 W vs EMU

Rob Senderoff led his Golden Flashes to two statement triumphs this week as they look to remain at the top of the MAC.

In Tuesday’s outing, Kent State capitalized on several scoring runs to rout Western Michigan on the road. In the first half alone, the Golden Flashes manufactured 20-2 and 13-3 bursts, which amounted to a 27-point halftime lead. The game was all but over after those runs as Kent State had little difficulty putting the Broncos to rest. VonCameron Davis led his squad in scoring with 21 points off an efficient 8-of-14 shooting.

The Golden Flashes did not experience much more resistance against Eastern Michigan as it cruised to another commanding win. Kent State succeeded on offense as it canned 31-of-58 shots on the night, but its defensive effort was even more impressive. As a team, Kent State collected 14 steals and sent back six shots. Sincere Carry was the high-scorer with 17 points.

T-1st — Toledo (12-2 MAC | 21-6 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 24 Eastern Michigan at Toledo


  • 2/14: 89-71 W vs Miami
  • 2/18: 91-86 W @ BGSU

The Rockets extended their conference-leading win streak to 11 games as it collected two victories this week.

Toledo has not lost to Miami since 2011, and its streak did not on Tuesday. The Rockets relied on superb ball movement, turning over the ball just five times, and free throws to earn the victory. Toledo nearly averaged nearly one free throw per minute as it shot 36 of them, of which it made 30. Setric Millner Jr. led his team with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

On Saturday, the Rockets completed the season sweep of their rival, Bowling Green. It was not without resistance, however, as the game featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes. The Rockets ultimately prevailed in a close second half due in part to RayJ Dennis’s 19 second-half points. Dennis led all scorers with 27 total points, and added seven rebounds and seven assists.

3rd — Akron (11-3 MAC | 19-8 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 14 Wright State at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 78-51 W @ EMU
  • 2/18: 86-66 W vs Buffalo

Akron recovered from its uncharacteristic pair of losses last week by capturing two victories this week, and, due to Ball State’s loss, it finds itself in sole possession of third place.

The Zips capped off a season sweep of Eastern Michigan on Tuesday. Akron was slow out of the gates, scoring just 29 points in the first half, but excelled in the second half to secure the road win. The Zips’ win can be attributed to its strong play in the paint as it won the rebound battle 45-28 and scored 36 points down low. Enrique Freeman led the effort with a dominant 22-point, 15-rebound night.

Akron also completed the sweep in its season series against Buffalo on Saturday. The Zips led for 38:47 in its statement win, and were catalyzed by the duo of Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. Freeman posted a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Castaneda dropped 30 points and grabbed six rebounds.

4th — Ball State (10-4 MAC | 19-8 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 22 Ball State at Kent State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 87-77 W vs NIU
  • 2/18: 68-78 L @ WMU

The Cardinals were firmly in position to seize the league’s top spot prior to this week, but their most disappointing loss of the season has set them back in the standings.

Ball State opened its week with a much-needed win over Northern Illinois on Tuesday. Fueled by a balanced a scoring effort and dominating play on the glass, the Cardinals led for nearly 35 minutes, and cruised to the victory. Payton Sparks began his night with three consecutive turnovers, but eventually found his stride as he scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

The Cardinals found offensive success with ease in its Tuesday win, but they deeply struggled in that department against Western Michigan on Saturday. Ball State shot just 23-of-61 from the field and 7-of-25 from beyond the arc, which resulted in a shocking loss for Michael Lewis’s squad. Despite the result, Ball State received respectable production from its starters, with Jaylin Sellers and Jarron Coleman recording 22 and 15 points, respectively.

5th — Ohio (8-6 MAC | 16-11 overall)

Ohio v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images


  • 2/14: 85-61 W vs Buffalo
  • 2/18: 76-59 W @ CMU

Ohio looks to have peaked at the right time. The Bobcats’ two wins this week extended their streak to five games, and propelled them up the MAC standings.

The Bobcats opened their week by avenging an early-January loss to Buffalo. Using a balanced scoring effort (five double-figure scorers) with an am emphasis on scoring down low (40 paint points), the Bobcats ran away with the win. Elmore James and Dwight Wilson III, who have both provided a consistent physical presence this season, led OU in scoring with 15 points a piece.

Ohio proceeded to knock off Central Michigan in another high-stakes game on Saturday. It rolled to the 17-point win by forcing 18 turnovers, which led to 22 points, and by draining 13 shots from beyond the arc. Five Bobcats scored in double figures, but it was AJ Clayton’s 18-point performance off the bench that paved the way for Jeff Boals’s team.

6th — Northern Illinois (7-7 MAC | 11-16 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 17 Northern Illinois at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 77-87 L @ Ball State
  • 2/18: 65-66 L (OT) vs Miami

The Huskies’ quiet ascent up the MAC standings was set back this week with two losses. Northern’s pair of defeats marks just its first two-game losing streak in MAC play.

The Huskies opened their week with a tough road test against Ball State, which was made even more difficult with star guard Kaleb Thornton out of the lineup. Rashon Burno’s squad still competed well, answering almost every Cardinal run with a burst of its own, but could not overcome a 17-point second-half deficit. David Coit recorded his ninth 20-point performance as he scored 22 points in the loss.

Thornton’s return came with the absence of Coit in Saturday’s game against Miami. The again undermanned Huskies squad fell in overtime after a second-half collapse. The second period saw Northern Illinois go scoreless for the last 6:14, losing control of a lead that swelled to 20-points. Anthony Crump put together an admirable performance as he logged 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and four steals.

7th — Buffalo (6-8 MAC | 12-15 overall)

Buffalo v Michigan State Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images


  • 2/14: 61-85 L @ Ohio
  • 2/18: 66-86 L @ Akron

The Bulls were unable to emerge victorious in either of their games this week, which caused them to fall one place in the standings.

UB opened its week with a pivotal matchup against Ohio, but fell in disappointing fashion to the Bobcats due to a poor offensive showing. The Bulls shot just 22-of-64 from the field, and made an abysmal 3-of-25 three-point attempts. Despite the team’s shooting woes, Curtis Jones and Jonnivius Smith managed to bag 14 points each.

Buffalo also dropped its second game of the week by wide margin as it fell by 20 points against Akron. UB’s offensive performance left little room for complaint, but its defensive effort was subpar, and was a major factor in the loss. The Bulls could not contain the Zips’ tandem of Enrique Freeman and Xavier Castaneda all night, allowing them to score a combined 51 points.

8th — Central Michigan (5-9 MAC | 10-17 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 29 Central Michigan at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 77-74 W @ BGSU
  • 2/18: 59-76 L vs Ohio

The injury-plagued Chippewas have continued to compete well in high-impact games, and their performance this week keeps them in the MAC tournament discussion.

Central Michigan opened its week with a key victory over Bowling Green, who was tied with the Chippewas in the standings when the two squared off. Tony Barbee’s crew found the winning side of the closely-contested game by running efficient offense, with a focus on attacking the basket: CMU logged 34 points in the paint. Central’s efforts were led by freshman Reggie Bass as he notched 25 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.

CMU could not carry its momentum into its Saturday matchup with the red-hot Ohio Bobcats as they fell by double digits. The Chippewas pieced together a 12-0 start, but the Bobcats eventually took hold of the game through strong guard play, building a lead which grew to 23 points in the second half. Building a case for a spot on the MAC All-Freshman team, Bass led his squad in scoring for the second straight game with 22 points.

9th — Bowling Green (4-10 MAC | 10-17 overall)

NCAA Basketball: Bowling Green at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


  • 2/14: 74-77 L vs CMU
  • 2/18: 86-91 L vs Toledo

Michael Huger’s Falcons’ were squarely on the fringe of MAC tournament qualification before this week, but two close losses have caused them to fall out of the top-8.

Bowling Green was tied with Central Michigan for the coveted eighth-place position prior to this week, which made Tuesday’s matchup especially critical. However, the Falcons could not hang on to a 10-point lead in the final four minutes of play, and dropped the impactful contest. Kaden Metheny led the way for BGSU with 19 points, and was the only starter in double figures.

The Falcons welcomed Toledo to the Stroh Center on Saturday for the second game of the Battle of I-75. With 12 lead changes and 12 ties, the two bitter rivals were locked in a close fight for all 40 minutes, but the Falcons could not close out the upset win. The Rockets made 28 trips to the charity stripe and the Falcons made just 13, which was ultimately what decided the outcome. BGSU saw five of its players score in double figures in the loss.

T-10th — Miami (3-11 MAC | 9-18 overall)

Miami Ohio v Cincinnati Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images


  • 2/14: 71-89 L @ Toledo
  • 2/18: 66-65 W (OT) @ NIU

A team that had been anchoring the MAC standings at the 12th spot for the majority of the season, Miami has ascended in recent games to keep itself in the tournament conversation.

Despite the RedHawks’ upward trajectory, they were handily beaten by Toledo on Tuesday. They trailed the Rockets for the entire course of the game, and were plagued by foul trouble. Miami was whistled for 28 fouls, which booked Toledo 36 trips to the free throw line. This added to the RedHawks’ lengthy losing streak against Toledo, which now stands at 19 games.

Miami followed up its Tuesday loss with one of the most impressive comebacks of the season against Northern Illinois. With 9:22 remaining, Miami trailed 34-54, and looked to be postured for a loss. Against the odds, it rattled off a 24-4 run to close out the half, which sent the game to overtime. Leaning on smart offensive sets and strong defensive stands, Miami completed the comeback win in overtime. Anderson Mirambeaux led with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Morgan Safford was close behind with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

T-10th — Western Michigan (3-11 MAC | 7-20 overall)

Western Michigan v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images


  • 2/14: 58-82 L vs Kent State
  • 2/18: 78-68 W vs Ball State

The Broncos’ hopes of securing a spot in the MAC tournament were dwindling, but a surprising win in their final game of the week keeps them in the mix for a trip to Cleveland.

Western’s critical win on Saturday was not before a disappointing home loss to Kent State, however. After the Golden Flashes enjoyed a 20-2 run midway through the first frame, the game fell far out of reach for the Broncos. WMU compiled 20 turnovers, and lost the rebound battle 12-20 en route to the defeat. Lamar Norman Jr. manufactured the most impressive individual performance as he scored 17 points and dished out three assists.

The Broncos rebounded against Ball State by winning their first contest since January 14, which ended their nine-game slide. Leading the Cardinals for over 37 minutes, the Broncos pieced together their finest performance of the MAC season with the help of stellar backcourt play. Tray Maddox Jr. and Lamar Norman Jr. combined to score 42 of their team’s 78 points, and they both made major defensive contributions in the winning effort.

T-10th — Eastern Michigan (3-11 MAC | 6-21 overall)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 11 Toledo at Eastern Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


  • 2/14: 51-78 L vs Akron
  • 2/17: 54-81 L @ Kent State

Eastern’s progress in recent weeks came to a halt as the Eagles dropped both of its games by 20+ points, marking the first time they have fallen by that margin in consecutive outings this season.

Although Stan Heath’s team kept Tuesday’s game close in the opening minutes, its woes on the offensive end allowed Akron to run away with the victory. The Eagles converted on just 19-of-49 field goals, and shot a bleak 1-of-15 from three. 51 points is the lowest total registered by EMU this season.

Th Eagles’ nationally-televised road matchup against Kent State told a similar story. Eastern struggled to move the ball on offense with 19 turnovers, and posted another miserable shooting night by making just 18-of-54 field goal attempts. Emoni Bates provided something for EMU fans to cheer for as he posted a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double.