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MAC Men's Basketball Power Rankings: Buffalo rises as five teams separate themselves from the competition

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It was quite a shake up this week after NIU and Kent State's not-so-good weeks along with Ball State and Buffalo's resurgence.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

So after last week's power rankings, where we probably set a comments record (56) for this type of post, this week is sure to not cause some controversy, right?

We're inching closer and closer to March (hey BTW you can buy tickets for the MAC Tournament now) and we can really start looking at seeding scenarios. All of the schools are just one game a part from each other so nothing is set in stone as of yet.

On to the rankings:

Rank School (1st Place Votes) Points Last Week
1 Akron (15) 15 1
2 Buffalo 43 5
3 Central Michigan 50 3
4 Ball State 62 6
5 Kent State 76 2
6 Northern Illinois 100 4
7 Toledo 103 9
8 Ohio 105 8
9 Bowling Green 128 7
10 Eastern Michigan 155 11
11 Western Michigan 156 10
12 Miami 177 12

I'll be honest: we really don't talk about Buffalo too much on our here basketball wise - Bull Run does a great job already. But now it's time.

First of all let's credit Buffalo head coach Nate Oats for coming into a really odd situation with the chips stacked against him and pulling through it with aplomb. Oats has had to deal with his first collegiate head coaching job, the loss of his two best players from last year's NCAA Tournament team, his wife's cancer fight, and the general ups and downs of a typical college basketball season.

The Bulls played a really difficult non-conference schedule, featuring current top-100 Ken Pom teams St. Joseph's, St. Bonaventure, Duke, Iowa State and VCU - and all but one of them on the road. Playing those match-ups early on have helped them out greatly with their MAC schedule, as they sit 7-3 which is just a game behind Akron. The only losses were at home against Akron, at Eastern Michigan and at Western Michigan.

Oats found three gems in Blake Hamilton, Willie Conner and C.J. Massinburg who are all averaging near or over double-digits in scoring this season. Jarryn Skeete and Lamonte Bearden, stalwarts from last year, have also played well and guys like Nick Perkins and Rodell Wigginton are also liable to have a big night. All-in-all you can't sleep on this Bulls team, and they could very well be right there on a Saturday night in Cleveland looking to defend their crown.

The other major surprise from last week was NIU. The Huskies are in the midst of a tailspin, losing their last four games by an average of 11.5 points. Maybe the success got to their heads, but NIU needs a huge turnaround to get back to where they once were. It won't be that easy though - their next two games are at Kent State and home to Akron.

Speaking of Kent State, they fell out of the top three as they are on their own 3-game losing streak. The losses haven't been great - by 11 at Ohio, 27 at Central Michigan and 15 at Toledo, but maybe the biggest loss is Xavier Pollard. The graduate transfer from Maine is the Flashes' second-leading scorer at 12 points per game, and is out for the season with a fractured foot. Someone will have to step up in Pollard's absence, and unfortunately that hasn't happened yet.