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MAC Men’s Basketball Power Rankings: Akron starts out on top

The Zips take the top spot in our preseason poll.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Villanova Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

With #shootyhoops looming, it’s time to unveil our weekly power rankings for men’s basketball. So without further ado, let’s peek into our Hustle Belt crystal ball and see how the league stacks up for 2016-17.

12. Miami RedHawks

(Average position: 11.8, Highest vote: 11, Lowest vote: 12)

The RedHawks have to start from the bottom this season with the departures of Geovonie McKnight and Eric Washington. This is a team with a lot of unknowns, and with no games this week we won’t know any more about Miami until next weekend.

11. Bowling Green Falcons

(Average position: 11, Highest vote: 10, Lowest vote: 12)

Despite their early struggles last season, the Falcons have some pretty good players in Ismail Ali and Antwon Lillard, and BG should be able to build some momentum against Division III Capital University on Friday.

10. Western Michigan Broncos

(Average position: 9.4, Highest vote: 6, Lowest vote: 11)

WMU disappointed last year with losses to Miami and Northern Illinois, but they have the potential to be a tough out in the MAC with Thomas Wilder back with the Broncos. The team hosts Kalamazoo College on Saturday, so don’t expect them to break through that glass ceiling just yet.

9. Toledo Rockets

(Average position: 8.6, Highest vote: 8, Lowest vote: 9)

The Rockets have the potential to be a pretty good team, but the loss of Nathan Booth hurts Toledo tremendously. However, the team should get on track against Ohio Dominican on Saturday.

T-7. Northern Illinois Huskies

(Average position: 7.6, Highest vote: 7, Lowest vote: 8)

Scoring shouldn’t be an issue for the Huskies with three returners averaging double digits in that department, but they’ll have to improve their consistency if they expect to make some hay in the MAC this season. NIU doesn’t have a game this weekend, so they’ll have another week before they can show what they have for 2016-17.

T-7. Central Michigan Chippewas

(Average position: 7.6, Highest vote: 6, Lowest vote: 9)

Losing Chris Fowler and Rayshawn Simmons will be a blow for the Chips, but Braylon Rayson will be a guy that will impress in the MAC West. CMU hosts Slippery Rock on Saturday, so we will see how the new-look Chippewas play against a team that it should beat.

6. Eastern Michigan Eagles

(Average position: 6.4, Highest vote: 5, Lowest vote: 10)

EMU is a team that’s sneaky good and could very well be the best team in the MAC West this season with five returners averaging over ten points per game. The Eagles are off this weekend, so we’ll see what they have in store for us next week.

5. Ball State Cardinals

(Average position: 5.4, Highest vote: 5, Lowest vote: 6)

The Cardinals tip off the #MACsketball season Thursday with a contest against the University of Indianapolis as they look to be even better this season. With Franko House and Ryan Weber back into the fold, it’ll be a nip-and-tuck battle between BSU and EMU for control of the MAC West.

4. Kent State Golden Flashes

(Average position: 3.8, Highest vote: 3, Lowest vote: 5)

Not looking to be lost in the shuffle in the MAC East, the Flashes should prove to be a tough out with Jimmy Hall being on of the better players in the league. Kent State is off this week, so we’ll have to see what KSU has in store for us next weekend.

3. Buffalo Bulls

(Average position: 3.4, Highest vote: 3, Lowest vote: 4)

The defending MAC champions are still a force to be reckoned with as three of its four top scorers from last year’s squad, but the challenge for them will be to run the table in a really competitive MAC East. UB opens with Daemen on Friday night, so the Bulls should be able to impose their will right out of the gate.

2. Ohio Bobcats

(Average position: 1.8, Highest vote: 1, Lowest vote: 2, First place votes: 1)

This will be a position that will upset Bobcat fans, as it should with three double-digit scorers returning to the team this season, including all-world ‘Cat Antonio Campbell. Ohio takes on Rio Grande Saturday, where they should get the ball rolling on the 2016-17 season.

1. Akron Zips

(Average position: 1.2, Highest vote: 1, Lowest vote: 2, First place votes: 4)

The Zips start out on top this season as it seems they always have top-end players, as is the case this year with Antino Jackson and Isaiah Johnson. Akron’s on a bye this week, so we’ll see if Ohio can impress enough voters to unseat the team next week.