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MAC Hoops Preview: Tuesday, December 1st

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Today features an incredibly interesting slate of games for #MACsketball, as Ball State, Ohio, and Eastern Michigan, are all in action. Even a former MAC school is coming back for a game, as the Marshall Thundering Herd is prepping for its match-up against a current MAC foe.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the current state of the MAC men's basketball standings, every game is imperative for teams hoping to stake their claim as the top team in their respective division. Ohio hopes to rebound from their last loss and escape the bottom half of the MAC East, while Ball State and Eastern Michigan are both riding winning streaks that they to continue in order to boost themselves up the standings in the MAC West, where they find themselves within earshot of the top.

Here is the slate of games for the day:

IUPUI @ Ball State 7:00 P.M. ESPN3
Marshall @ Ohio 7:00 P.M. ESPN3
Eastern Michigan @ Nebraska-Omaha 8:00 P.M. No TV, stream available via UNO ($)

IUPUI @ Ball State

Sitting at 5-2, the Cardinals have shown flashes of immense promise that fans can hang their hats on. Coming off of a major upset against Valpo, Ball State is in tremendous shape in the MAC West, as well as momentum-wise. Big play from big men Bo Calhoun and Franko House have led the Cardinals so far this season, averaging 12 and 14 points per game, respectively. Calhoun played a major role in the victory over the Crusaders, knocking down three of four three-pointers, part of a 15-point performance from the senior from Chicago.

The Cardinals face an IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) Jaguars team that sits at 2-5 and last in the Summit League. The Jaguars have dropped three straight at the hands of Kennesaw State, South Alabama, and Georgia State (overtime). IUPUI is no joke, however, and should not be taken lightly by the Cardinals, who could easily be taking this as a let-down game. The Jaguars knocked off a strong Indiana State team early in the season, showing an ability to hang with the big boys, and even beat them. IUPUI is led by guards Darrel Combs (Eastern Michigan transfer) and Jordan Pickett, who both average over 13 points per game.

The Jaguars have only played one home game, which they won, but boast a 1-5 record on the road.

Marshall @ Ohio

Ohio sees this game as an opportunity to make a statement in a tough rivalry game. No matter how either team is doing, this game always seems to be close and competitive. The Bobcats fell just short against an extremely talented Florida State Seminole team, led by freshman sensation Dwayne Bacon, 90-81. At 3-2, Ohio has suffered a tough defeat to Tulsa, in which they lost a 19-point lead to eventually fall 90-88. Since that game, the team has played better, but still has yet to pull off a win against a truly reputable opponent (sorry, Norfolk State). They will get that shot against a struggling Marshall team in this rivalry contest. Jaaron Simmons and Kenny Kaminski lead the team in scoring, with 16 and 15 points per game respectively. Additionally, Antonio Campbell is averaging 12 points as well as 8 rebounds, leading the team in that category.

The Thundering Herd have yet to taste victory this season, with a 0-3 record at the bottom of Conference USA. Tennessee, Morehead State, and James Madison proved to be too much for Marshall, beating them by a combined 48 points. The Herd will hit the road for the third time this season en route to Athens. Guard Stevie Browning leads Marshall in scoring with 15 points per game.

Eastern Michigan @ Nebraska-Omaha

He's back. Yep, that's right Eagles fans, Raven Lee is back from his suspension and is eligible to play in this game. Eastern Michigan has had some easy wins leading to their 4-2 record, playing a combination of D-III and NAIA schools in Siena Heights, Marygrove, and Madonna, winning by a combined 105 points. The good news is that in Lee's absence, other Eagles have stepped up, including junior guard Willie Mangum, who has averaged 17 points per game so far this season. True freshman center James Thompson IV has also played big for Eastern Michigan, averaging 14 points per game and 12 rebounds per contest.

Raven Lee comes back as an early candidate for the best player in the MAC, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the expectations of this season. The Eagles have yet to win a meaningful game since its first game, a 20-point victory over Vermont. Other than that, they've lost big to Michigan State, and lost by 10 at Oakland. This is a prime opportunity for Eastern Michigan to straighten things out against a strong Omaha team before a big match-up against Penn State.

Nebraska-Omaha sits at 3-3, which does not portray the whole story of their season so far. The Mavericks's losses have combined for a mere nine points. Losses at Colorado and Minnesota were extremely close, and thanks to big performances from Jake White and Tre'Shawn Thurman, almost resulted in Omaha upsets. Right now, the Mavericks find themselves at the bottom of the Summit League standings, but that can and may very well change soon, should they finally pull out a victory against Eastern Michigan.