With the non-conference portion of the schedule in our rear view mirror, it's now time to focus on what truly matters: conference play. As it has been for the last umpteen years, the MAC will be getting only one bid to the NCAA Tournament as really only one team truly impressed during non-conference play. Surely others will get into post-season play, but the number of really good teams in the conference has fallen since last season.
Note: Rankings are compiled through Sundays' games:
|Rank||Team (1st-Place Votes)||Points||Last Week|
The big riser here is Ball State, who's win over Valparaiso just keeps looking better and better. It's true that the Cardinals haven't beaten anyone of note outside of the Crusaders, but they're the feel-good story of the MAC this year. After winning only 7 games last year, this season's win total of 9 feels like an accomplishment on its own. Sure, conference play will knock them down a few pegs. But who knows, maybe this Ball State team can contend this season?
Western Michigan didn't lose this week, but needed to really work to beat 7-9 Jacksonville at home, a team ranked outside of KenPom's top 300. This could be a down year in Kalamazoo, and the MAC didn't give them an easy start to the conference schedule. The Broncos open MAC play tonight against Kent State before heading to Akron on Friday. That certainly smells like an 0-2 start, which is not what WMU needs right now.