2009-10 Conference Primers: #19 – MAC

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2009


Rush the Court currently does not have a correspondent from the MAC so if you would like to represent the conference and educate the rest of us, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Predicted Order of Finish:


  1. Akron (12-4)
  2. Buffalo (11-5)
  3. Kent State (10-6)
  4. Bowling Green (9-7)
  5. Miami (OH) (8-8)
  6. Ohio (7-9)


  1. Ball State (8-8)
  2. Northern Illinois (7-9)
  3. Eastern Michigan (7-9)
  4. Central Michigan (6-10)
  5. Toledo (6-10)
  6. Western Michigan (5-11)

All-Conference Team:

  • David Kool (G), Sr, Western Michigan
  • Darion Anderson (G), Jr, Northern Illinois
  • Jarrod Jones (F), So, Ball State
  • Brandon Bowdry (F), Jr, Eastern Michigan
  • Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

6th Man. Brett McKnight (F), Jr, Akron

Impact Newcomer. Zeke Marshall (C), Fr, Akron

mac logo

What You Need to Know. To begin with this is the MAC not the MAAC. Sienadoesn’t play in this conference so if you came here expecting to see a preview for them you are in the wrong place (at least for a few days). This conference, the MAC, is ridiculously unbalanced. While none of the the teams in the MAC would be considered contenders for a national title there are four good teams in the East that might actually pique some interest when they played a decent BCS school as an “Upset Alert.” There isn’t a single team in the West you could say that about even if they were playing a cellar-dweller in any of the BCS conferences. In fact, last year the last-place team in the East (Ohio) would have been tied for first in the West. The winner of the automatic bid will almost definitely come from the East with Akron and Buffalo being the top contenders. The edge may go to the Zips who lose less of their championship team from last year (only Nate Linhart) and add a 7’0″ center in the middle with Zeke Marshall while the Bulls will not have Greg Gamble and Andy Robinson this year.

Predicted Champion.  Akron Zips (NCAA Seed: #13). Coming off a 20-win season and the MAC title/NCAA bid the Zips are loaded by MAC standards. The only significant player they lose is Linhart (the MAC tournament MVP), but the Zips should have more than enough to stay up at the top of the MAC with the McKnight brothers (Chris and Brett) leading the way. Even though Brett came off the bench last year, he still led the team in scoring and figures to do so again although I’m not sure if he will stay on the bench with Linhart’s departure. With the McKnights and Marshall controlling the inside, Daryl Roberts and his 39.6% from beyond the arc should get his fair share of quality looks. With so much returning talent, the key for the Zips will be how quickly Marshall adapts to the college game. Marshall, who FoxSports.com rated as the #13 impact freshman this upcoming season, could give the Zips something the MAC hasn’t seen in a long-time–a legitimate seven-foot center. His presence, even if tips the scales at a relatively svelte 218 lbs, could be just the boost that the Zips need to repeat in the MAC and scare some big-name school in the 1st round.

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Checking in on the… MAC

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008


Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC.

Like most MAC pre-conference seasons, the majority of the league spent the first two weeks beating up on the Sisters of the Worthless Miracle.  But there were some MAC teams that took the time to play the big boys with mixed results.

  • As always, Miami’s schedule is murderer’s row.  The Redhawks first six games are on the road, including the 2K Coaches v Cancer Classic at UCLA.  Miami gave the #4 ranked Bruins all they could handle before falling 64-59Michael Bramos (MAC Player of the Year candidate) scored 22 points to surpass the 1000-point mark in his career.  The Redhawks left Pauley Pavilion feeling pretty good about themselves after the near-upset.  Unfortunately that feeling didn’t last long.  Just four days later, the Redhawks were humbled at #6 Pitt 82-53.  Bramos had just two points in this loss.  Miami was within three early in the second half before the much more physical Panthers just took over.  The gauntlet continues for Miami the next two weeks.  Road games at Wright State, Xavier and Temple loom.  This early season schedule should, without question, have the Redhawks ready to compete in the MAC.
  • Western Michigan is supposed to challenge in the MAC West.  The Broncos’ first three games this year were minor disappointments.  They lost to TCU by four, Hofstra by three in OT and then handed SIU-Edwardsville their first-ever division one victory by 11.  Not the start the Broncs were hoping for.  A silver-lining was David Kool.  He averaged over 24 points in those three losses.  But it’s obvious, he’s going to need help if WMU is going to be a serious MAC title contender.  They did fare better with a 13-point win over Detroit.  Road games at talented Sam Houston State and VCU the next two weeks will tell us a lot about this team.
  • Eastern Michigan suffered a serious setback before the season even started.  Senior point guard and pre-season All-MAC performer Carlos Medlock was lost for the season with a broken foot.  It’s the same foot he broke during the 2006-07 season.  He’ll apply for a medical hardship, but that won’t help the Eagles this year.  EMU had high hopes for their first winning season in a long time.  Medlock’s departure could hurt those chances.  His absence was felt in their blowout loss to Purdue where the EMU point guards combined for 13 turnovers.  Eastern would never had beaten Purdue with Medlock, but he certainly was missed.   EMU did bounce back nicely with a near upset of Georgia, losing 61-60 after leading by double-digits in the second half.  Not sure what this says about Georgia, but it’s certainly a confidence boost for EMU.
  • Toledo’s dance with the big boys was anything but memorable.  The Rockets were rocked by Florida 80-58 and stomped by Xavier 81-65.  Good news, Tyrone Kent smoked the Muskies for 37 in the loss.
  • Northern Illinois is supposed to bring up the rear again this year in the MAC.  But a sign of life was found in a win over Missouri Valley foe Indiana State.  The Sycamores ain’t exactly SIU or Creighton, but it’s still a nice win for Ricardo Patton’s club.
  • Ohio, as expected, easliy won their opener over William & Mary.  Jerome Tillman picked up where he left off last year notching his sixth straight double-double.  Tillman is a serious Player of The Year candidate in the MAC.
  • Kent, a favorite in the MAC East with Ohio and Miami, is 2-0 under new head coach Geno Ford.  They picked up an impressive road win against St. Louis and head coach Rick Majerus 76-74 in overtime.  Reigning MAC Player of the Year Al Fisher was tremendous in the win.  Fisher tallied 35 points, including 16 of Kent’s 17 overtime points.  Oh, and he hit the game-winning layup with less than :02 left.  No word on whether he drove the team bus home too.

The MAC has some big games to make a name for themselves the next two weeks, including match-ups with powerhouses like Kansas, Connecticut, Illinois and Marquette.  Here are some games to keep an eye on these next two weeks:

  • Bowling Green at Ohio State (11/24)
  • Kent State at the South Padre Invitational (starting vs. Illinois 11/28)
  • Ohio at George Mason 11/29
  • Temple at Buffalo 11/29
  • Miami at Xavier 11/29
  • Kent at Kansas 12/1
  • Central Michigan at Marquette 12/2
  • Tulsa at Ohio 12/3
  • UMass at Toledo 12/3
  • Miami at Temple 12/3
  • Northern Illinois at Air Force 12/3
  • St. Mary’s at Kent 12/4
  • Western Michigan at VCU 12/4
  • Connecticut at Buffalo 12/4


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ATB: Hey Tom Izzo, What’s a Mastodon?

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2008


News & Notes. One piece of news worth reporting tonight.  The NCAA denied USC transfer Alex Stepheson’s (from UNC) request to waive the requirement that he sit out this season.  He petitioned to the NCAA based on the poor health of his father (similar to Tyler Smith at Tennessee last year), but the powers-that-be decided against him.  This is a fairly big loss to Tim Floyd’s Trojans, but could we get some clarity and transparency from the NCAA on how these decisions are made?

Game of the Night. Kent St. 76, St. Louis 74 (OT). Tonight we check in on our good friend and epicurean Rick Majerus at St. Louis.  Last we saw Majerus he was busily putting together some of the ugliest games in college basketball history.  We hoped better for one of the seemingly nicest guys in the game this season.  So far, we’re not sure things are working out much better.  The Billikens scored 48 pts in a win against Missouri-St. Louis in their opener, but KSU’s Al Fisher ensured that Majerus’ team wouldn’t reach 2-0.  Fisher scored 16 of his team’s 17 pts in the overtime period, including the game winner with 2.1 seconds remaining.  He finished with 35/5 stls.

Upset of the Night. Mercer 78, Auburn 74. Are there any good teams in the SEC other than Tennessee?  Granted, we didn’t expect much from Auburn this year, but for the second time in four days, Mercer has gone into an SEC gym in Alabama and pulled off a win (Mercer 72, Alabama 69).  At this point, Mercer could lay a reasonable claim to being the best team in the SEC West.  The difference in this game?  Mercer outrebounded Auburn 36 to 18.  Yep, you read that right.  An A-Sun team with a front line that goes 6’6, 6’6, and 6’8 absolutely WHIPPED an SEC team on the boards.  Heart, much?

Near-Upset of the NightMichigan St. 70, IPFW 59. With 10:47 left in the second half, the score was IPFW 45-44 (what is it with Indiana and these infernal acronym schools???).  A 13-0 MSU run over the next five minutes salted away the game for the Spartans.  Somehow IPFW convinced Izzo to come to their place, and he almost seriously regretted it tonight. Raymar Morgan (22/6) led the way for MSU, who did not shoot the ball well (43% FG; 27% 3FG), and didn’t really defend all that well either (IPFW shot 46%).  Props to  former Hoosier Dane Fife’s team for throwing a mild scare into a top ten team.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Wake Forest 120, UNC-Wilmington 88. Well, we know Wake can score (214 pts in two games).  But can they defend (allowed 48% tonight)?  Jeff Teague had 31, James Johnson 25, and AFA 11/12/5 assts in a blowout win.
  • Villanova 77, Niagara 62. Scottie Reynolds shook off a poor shooting night (4-14) by making almost all of his FTs (9-10) to help Villanova hold off a team that just wouldn’t go away.  Corey Fisher added 15/6.
  • Butler 64, Ball St. 55. Butler’s Matt Howard contributed 15/6 in a typical home win for the Bulldogs, who are holding opponents to 35% shooting so far this season.

On Tap Thursday (all times EST). Sigh… another bunch of games we can’t wach b/c they’re on the U.

  • Virginia Tech (-10.5) v. Fairfield (ESPNU) – 11am (PR Tipoff)
  • Xavier (-4) v. Missouri (ESPNU) – 1pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Memphis (-21.5) v. UT-Chattanooga – 4:30pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Duke (-12.5) v. S. Illinois (ESPN2 & 360) – 7pm (CvC)
  • USC (-8) v.  Seton Hall (ESPNU) – 7pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Florida v. S. Utah (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Oklahoma St. (-7.5) v. Tulsa (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Vanderbilt (-5) v. Illinois (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • UCLA (-11) v. Michigan (ESPN2 & 360) – 9pm (CvC)
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2008-09 Season Primers: #15 – MAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2008

Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the Mid-American Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

MAC East

  1. Kent  (22-9, 12-4)
  2. Miami (OH) (16-13, 11-5)
  3. Ohio  (20-9, 10-6)
  4. Akron  (16-15, 8-8)
  5. Bowling Green  (16-13, 7-9)
  6. Buffalo  (12-17, 6-10)

MAC West

  1. Western Michigan  (18-12, 10-6)
  2. Eastern Michigan  (16-14, 10-6)
  3. Central Michigan  (14-15, 9-7)
  4. Toledo  (13-17, 6-10)
  5. Ball State  (10-19, 4-12)
  6. Northern Illinois  (7-22, 3-13)

WYN2K.  The MAC’s new logo is just a small part of the change that the Mid-American Conference is hoping will push their league to the next level.  Seven of the league’s twelve head coaches are either in their first or second year, a sign that it really is a new era in the MAC.  The league is hoping to make the leap that leagues such as the Missouri Valley have made over the past decade.  It’s been ten long years since the MAC has had two teams in the NCAA Tournament.  That was back in 1999 when Kent earned the automatic bid while Miami (OH) picked up the league’s last at-large bid.  They proved very worthy as Wally Szczerbiak carried the RedHawks to the Sweet 16.  But the MAC has not since been able to recapture the glory of 1999.  Yes, they did watch Kent make a run to the Elite Eight in 2002, but it’s been quantity rather than quality that has plagued the MAC in the new century.  Since that multiple bid year of 1999, the league has sat back and watched a number of conferences do what they’ve been unable to do.  We mentioned the Valley, who has been a multi-bid league eight times in the interim.  Additionally, the Mountain West (8), WAC (7), West Coast (5), Horizon (2), CAA (2), Sun Belt  (1) and Big West (1) have all been a multi-bid league at least once.  In order to make that leap to a multi-bid league, the MAC must schedule better and most importantly take advantage of the opportunities they do get against the major conference teams.

Predicted Champion.  Kent (#13 NCAA).  As it’s been 7 of the past 10 years, the winner of the MAC will come from the East.  Just what team from the East remains to be seen?  Miami, Kent and Ohio all should make serious runs at the title, but none would be anything higher than a #12 seed in the Big Dance. 

  • As long as Jim Christian was at Kent, the Flash were guaranteed a 20-win season (ten straight).  But Jim Christian left for TCU.  Kent assistant coach and former MAC superstar Geno Ford (Ohio ’97) takes over the bench for the Flashes, but he will have some familiar faces to help him in his first season.  Guard Al Fisher (13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) is the first returning MAC Player of the Year since 2002.  Fisher leads a group of eight returners that made up 65.1% of the KSU attack.  Chris Singletary and Jordan Mincy help Fisher solidify the backcourt.  The frontcourt is where Kent will have to fill some holes.  Gone are  Hamminn Quaintance and Mike Scott, both All-MAC performers who averaged over 23 points and 13 rebounds per game. 
  • Miami (OH) has veteran leadership on their side.  Charlie Coles, the dean of MAC coaches, is back for his 13th season with the RedHawks and he returns four starters and eleven letterwinners.  The most significant is Michael Bramos, a POY candidate.  Bramos (16.3 ppg) is a sharp-shooter who has the ability to light it up at anytime.  He went for 30+ points four times last year.  His scoring and the RedHawks always-frustrating defense will keep Miami in the hunt all year.  Miami has to find someone to replace the production of All-MAC frontcourt star Tim Pollitz. 
  • Ohio might be the longshot of these three, but don’t sleep on the Bobcats.  Like Kent, they have a new head coach in John Groce who comes from Ohio State where he played a big part in the recruiting of Greg Oden and Mike Conley.  It will take Groce some time to work his recruiting magic in Athens, but he does have some talent to work with.  Jerome Tillman (13.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) might be the best player in the league.  He’s been very solid the past three years for the ‘Cats, posting 18 double-doubles.  The only question with Tillman is can he do it without his tag-team partner of the past two years?  Gone is Leon Williams, who garnered double and triple teams throughout his career in Athens.  Williams opened things for Tillman, but with him gone on the inside, how will Tillman handle the bulk of the attention?  The Bobcats also return senior starter Justin Orr in the frontcourt, a player who has yet to tap into his full potential.  Michael Allen is the only other senior on the team.  He’ll be asked to be a leader on the floor from the point guard spot where he showed flashes of brilliance last year.  The Bobcats must find a way to win on the road if they want to be a serious contender.  They were 7-1 at home in the MAC, 2-6 on the road last season.

Others Considered.  Eastern Michigan hasn’t been dancing since 1998 and hasn’t had a winning season since 1999-00.  So why would we mention the Eagles?  Well, they could be a darkhorse in the West.  All-MAC guard Carlos Medlock returns as well as 2006-07 All-MAC freshman forward Brandon Bowdry who missed all of last year with a stress fracture.  The Eagles did finish second in the West last year at 8-8, so a winning season in 2008-09 is not out of the question.  Western Michigan will be considered the West favorite thanks to the return of All-MAC guard David Kool.  Along with having one of the best names in the MAC, he averaged over 16 points per game.  The Broncos will struggle trying to find a replacement for inside workhorse Joe Reitz.  In the East, Bowling Green and Buffalo could be sleepers.  BG returns almost everyone and has a talented coach in Louis Orr.  Buffalo was only 3-13 in the MAC last year, but they return all five starters and ninth-year head coach Reggie Witherspoon has won in this league before.

RPI Boosters.

The MAC does have a number of games against the BCS schools.  But overall, the league has done a pretty poor job of scheduling.  They’re aren’t nearly enough key games at home.  It’s been an ongoing problem for years in the MAC in trying to get bigger schools to come on-campus and play.  This year is no different.  But with that being said, there are chances to make some noise in the non-conference season.  The league plays quite a few mid-majors including a handful of teams from the MVC and Atlantic 10.  Here is a list of the top 25 games where the MAC really has a chance to put themselves on the map.  The italicized games are the rare times a big school has agreed to play at a MAC school.  If the MAC is able to pull a few upsets in these games, then what those teams do in conference will go a long way in earning them a possible at-large bid. 

  • Miami at UCLA  (11.13.08)
  • Toledo at Florida  (11.14.08)
  • Miami at Pitt  (11.17.08)
  • Toledo at Xavier  (11.17.08)
  • Eastern Michigan at Purdue (ESPN2)  (11.17.08)
  • Akron at Pitt  (11.21.08)
  • Bowling Green at Ohio State  (11.24.08)
  • Kent vs. Illinois (South Padre Invitational)  (11.28.08)
  • Kent vs. Texas A&M/Tulsa (South Padre Invitational)  (11.29.08)
  • Miami at Xavier  (11.29.08)
  • Kent at Kansas (ESPNU)  (12.01.08)
  • Central Michigan at Marquette  (12.02.08)
  • UMass at Toledo  (12.03.08)
  • St. Mary’s at Kent (12.04.08)
  • UConn at Buffalo  (12.04.08)
  • Ohio at Louisville  (12.07.08)
  • Purdue at Ball State  (12.09.08)
  • Ohio at Xavier  (12.10.08)
  • Eastern Michigan at Michigan  (12.13.08)
  • Western Michigan at UNLV  (12.14.08)
  • Southern Illinois at Northern Illinois  (12.17.08)
  • Miami at WVU  (12.20.08)
  • Houston at Toledo  (12.20.08)
  • Western Michigan at Southern Illinois  (12.22.08)
  • Eastern Michigan at Illinois  (12.28.08)
  • Central Michigan at Kentucky  (12.29.08)

The league is set up for teams to open with five division games, six cross-division games and then five division games to finish.  So we’ll have a good idea of the front-runners in both the East Division and West Division by late January.  It also sets up for some potentially big games in late February/early March to decide the division races.  On paper, the East Division is again stronger than the West Division.  The Michigan directional schools will all get their cracks at the East to prove otherwise in late January.

  • Kent at Ohio  (01.11.09)
  • Ohio at Miami  (01.14.09)
  • Miami at Kent  (01.17.09)
  • Eastern Michigan at Kent  (01.27.09)
  • Kent at Western Michigan  (01.31.09)
  • Miami at Eastern Michigan  (01.31.09)
  • Eastern Michigan at Ohio  (02.07.09)
  • Ohio at Western Michigan  (02.11.09)
  • Bowling Green at Toledo  (02.11.09)
  • Western Michigan at Miami  (02.14.09)
  • Miami at Ohio  (02.16.09)
  • Ohio at Kent  (02.17.09)
  • Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan  (02.18.09) 
  • Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan  (02.28.09)
  • Kent at Miami (03.01.09) (could decide East champion)
  • Central Michigan at Western Michigan  (03.08.09)

Neat-O Stat.  If history is any indicator, Kent will be there in the end.  They’ve played in the MAC Tournament title game 7 of the last 10 years, winning five of them.

Hello, My Name Is…

The league has 7 coaches who are either in their first or second years.

First-Year Head Coaches

  • John Groce – Ohio
  • Geno Ford – Kent
  • Gene Cross – Toledo

Second-Year Head Coaches

  • Louis Orr – Bowling Green
  • Ernie Ziegler – Central Michigan
  • Billy Taylor – Ball State
  • Ricardo Patton – Northern Illinois

Veteran Coaches

  • Charlie Coles – Miami (13th year)
  • Reggie Witherspoon – Buffalo (9th year)
  • Keith Dambrot – Akron (5th year)
  • Charles Ramsey – Eastern Michigan (3rd year)
  • Steve Hawkins – Western Michigan (6th year)

65 Team Era.   There’s a reason every coach gets a lump in his throat when the brackets first come out and he sees a MAC team opposite his sqaud, and it’s not necessarily because he thinks they’re going to lose.  Rather, if history is any indication, he’s likely to win the first-round game, but he’s in for an all-out war in doing so.  Despite an average seed of #11.9 throughout the era, MAC teams play their first-round opponents very tough, losing by 12 pts or less in all but seven of their first-round matchups.  The overall conference record of 15-29 (.341) with four trips to the Sweet Sixteen isn’t too shabby either.  Unfortunately for MAC fans, however, the conference is on a five-year streak of first-round losses, which is the longest such streak of the era.

Final Thoughts. 

  • While the MAC desperately wants to make the move to the next level and earn multiple NCAA bids, the reality is, this might not be the year for that to happen.  The league lost a lot of star power from last year and with a ton of new coaches, it might be a year or two before this league really starts to take off and maybe even return to the form of the late 1990s where they were not just earning NCAA bids, but winning NCAA games.  2008-09 will be like most years in the MAC.  Once they get to conference play, it will be an all-out war with teams beating up each other.  That makes it tough to earn an at-large out of this league.  Despite the top-heavy league records, the MAC is a tough league to win within, especially on the road. 
  • On a more positive note, this league is getting better.  You will see some budding coaching stars in Geno Ford, John Groce and Gene Cross.  Not to mention a few coaches who have been around the block that know a thing or two about winning like Charlie Coles, Ricardo Patton and Louis Orr.  They do have stars to replace, but there are stars ready to shine.  Keep an eye on Jerome Tillman (Ohio), Michael Bramos (Miami), Al Fisher (Kent), Carlos Medlock (EMU), Tyrone Kent and Boomer Tucker (Toledo) and David Kool (WMU).
  • This might not be a league who earns multiple NCAA bids in 2008-09, but they will make noise out of conference.  Miami always gives people fits.  Ohio is usually good for an upset.  Kent has been rock-solid for the last decade.  And with the much-improved Bowling Greens, Eastern Michigans and Toledos of the world, the MAC could jump up and surprise a big boy or two if they’re not careful.
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