MAC Wrapup & Tourney PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2009
Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC and MAC Conferences.
What in the world has happened to the MAC? Check out Monday’s edition of bracketology and you’ll see Bowling Green as Joe Lunardi’s choice to be the MAC’s representative in the NCAA Tournament. No problem with that, considering they edged Buffalo for the MAC regular season title on Sunday. The problem lies with where they are seeded. A #16 SEED!?!?!? WHAT?!?!?!? This conference is at maybe it’s lowest point in decades. Scratch maybe. This is rock bottom for the MAC.
With that being said, the play has been super-competitive within in the league. Going into the final four game stretch, every team in the MAC East was alive for the league title. We’re not even going to touch the West. They were a flat debacle. Nobody had a winning record. Ball State had the most wins in the West and the Cardinals won 13 games. Just sad.
The league did announce their postseason awards Monday. Click here to take a look.
The league tournament starts on Tuesday and, if you throw out the West, the tournament should be wide open.
Ohio proved to be a major disappointment down the stretch going 4-9, including a 34-point beatdown by Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Falcons, led by coach of the year Louis Orr, are probably the prohibitive favorite. They went 10-3 down the stretch including wins at Ohio, Akron, Buffalo, Toledo, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. They nearly knocked off Miami in Oxford, losing in overtime 50-45. Miami is always dangerous as long as Charlie Coles is on the bench. But the Redhawks stumble into Cleveland losing four of their last six. Kent comes in after two impressive wins to finish the regular season. The Flashes topped Buffalo and Akron to earn the #6 seed. Akron looked like they were going to establish themselves as the class of the MAC after a seven-game win streak midway through the season. But since that streak the Zips have alternated wins and losses in the final seven games, making them a question mark heading for Cleveland. Buffalo is kind of in the same ship as the Zips. A nine-game win streak through January and early February had the Bulls as the “team to beat” in the MAC. But, like the Zips, they struggled down the stretch losing five of their last seven.
Again, we are not going to touch the West. They’re awful and have no shot. Let me repeat, no shot, of winning this tournament. They will win one first round only because Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan play each other. Maybe their only other shot to win a game is Western Michigan. The Broncos get struggling Ohio in the first round. It’s a Bobcat team they beat by 14 earlier in the season. Other than that, Akron will roll past Toledo and Kent past Northern Illinois.
That should set up some pretty good quarterfinal games. Except for the Ball State vs. EMU/CMU Winner game. Again, somehow the West will automatically get to the semifinals. The big winner in that scenario is Buffalo or Kent. Whoever survives that game will get an all-but-free pass to the finals on Saturday. The other side of the bracket will pit the WMU/Ohio winner against Bowling Green. BG should get past that game and into the semifinals. That is where they’ll get the survivor of the Akron/Miami game, which should be the most entertaining quarterfinal game of the bunch. The two teams split the regular season series, but both were grind-it-out low scoring games.
So your final four, in my opinion, will play out as follows. Buffalo vs. Ball State and Akron vs. Bowling Green.
Like I said earlier, Buffalo is into the finals. The Akron/BG game is a coin-flip. Each team won on the other’s home floor this year. I’ll roll with Akron. The league was so tight throughout the season, I can’t imagine chalk (I know Buffalo is a #3, but Ball State is the worst #2 seed in conference tournament history, so I’m not counting them) making it through to the finals. Buffalo, with a veteran coach and team, will get past Akron and into the NCAA Tournament. But again, I would not be surprised if I’m wrong. Mainly, because I usually am wrong. But mostly, because I think Kent, Buffalo, Akron, Miami and Bowling Green are all
about even and all have an equally good chance of winning this thing.
Regardless, as fun as the MAC Tournament might be, let’s not lose reality. This is a very down year for the league, the worst in many, many years. And the winner of the MAC Tournament will serve as an appetizer in the Big Dance for either a #1 or #2 seed.
So I ask again: what in the world has happened to the MAC?