RTC Conference Primers: #18 – Mid-American Conference

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2011

This conference primer was prepared by the RTC staff. If you are knowledgeable about the MAC and have an interest in becoming the correspondent for this league, please e-mail us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Freshman Grow Up. After having 15 freshman start for MAC teams last year, this year promises a more balanced, less chaotic version of basketball as many of those freshmen will have matured (although we know that is not always the case). With increased experience, the MAC promises to offer a higher quality of basketball with less inconsistency across its teams. It also bodes well for the conference’s futures as many of these players are expected to be four-year players so even if the conference is not loaded this year it has the potential to be very strong in another year or two.
  • Three Team Battle at the Top. While the MAC has traditionally been a wild conference, there appears to be three teams this year – Akron, Kent State, and Western Michigan – as the class of the conference. While the Zips and Golden Flashes return quite a bit of experience and waged a hard-fought game in the conference tournament finals that was decided on a last second block, the Broncos field a young team with plenty of potential. They are probably a step below the other two teams, but this trio is most likely several levels above the rest of the conference.

Can Akron Do It Again? (AP/M. Duncan)

  • Can the MAC Get an At-Large? As mentioned earlier, the conference has traditionally been a wild one, which means that the team that wins the regular season will not necessarily win the conference tournament (Kent State the past two years). The question is whether a team from the MAC can establish a strong enough regular season resume to earn an NCAA at-large bid. The truth is that we aren’t sure, but at least the three teams already highlighted are trying to play good non-conference schedules, which should boost their strength of schedule come Selection Sunday. Western Michigan has the toughest schedule with a home game against Temple (November 17), at Purdue (November 23), at Gonzaga (November 26 listed as a “neutral site” game in Spokane), at Detroit (December 8), at Oakland (December 23), and at Duke (December 30). Akron has games at Mississippi State (November 9), home against Detroit (November 26), at West Virginia (November 28), and at home against Virginia Commonwealth (December 29). Kent State isn’t quite as impressive, but still has games at West Virginia (November 15) and at Utah State (November 22).
  • How Bad Will Toledo Be? We usually don’t like kicking a team when it is down, but the Rockets might end up having one of the worst teams in Division I this year. Last year they were 4-28 overall and 1-15 in the conference while finishing 344th in Division I in scoring and that was before they had their scholarships cut from 13 to 10 due to poor APR scores and they lost their top returning scorer Malcolm Griffin and Hayden Humes to transfer and Justin Moss retired after being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart). So basically this team is going to be really, really bad.
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Morning Five: 08.04.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 4th, 2011

  1. The match-ups for several early season tournaments were released yesterday. Looking through the match-ups we have to say we are kind of underwhelmed. By far the best bracket released yesterday was from the 2K Sports Classic, which features Texas A&M against Mississippi State and St. John’s against Arizona. With four intriguing teams we would be interested in all four of the games played there including the consolation game. Outside of that the only interesting match-ups are the opening round match-up between Iona and Purdue in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and a potential match-up between Vanderbilt and Texas in the Legends Classic. Of course, our perception of what is deemed a quality early season tournament might be skewed by the upcoming Maui Invitational.
  2. On Tuesday we pointed out how weak Connecticut‘s non-conference schedule was. We won’t be doing the same with Florida‘s non-conference schedule where they are scheduled to play against six teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The most daunting games are trips to Ohio State and Syracuse (both of which should be ranked in the top 5 in the preseason rankings). Outside of that the Gators will play against Arizona, Florida State, and UAB in Gainesville and a neutral site game against Texas A&M. That has to be one of the most brutal non-conference schedules in the country and if Billy Donovan has any questions about his team they should be answered relatively early in the year.
  3. Yesterday there was a lot of buzz on Twitter about an article in The Wall Street Journal about Jerron Love, a 15-year old basketball player, and his father Jerry, who runs his own recruiting site. The basic premise of the article is that Jerron is a “phenom” who some are calling the country’s top eighth-grade basketball player. The catch? The person calling him that is his father. We didn’t have a chance to follow every comment on Twitter about this story, but it seemed like everybody thought the entire story was ridiculous (here’s our tweet about it). The more amusing thing was how they were interviewing people who were raving about Jerron based on the ranking and did not even realize that it was his father doing the ranking.
  4. For years sports fans have made jokes about Boise State‘s blue football field. Now, thanks to Northwestern, we may have the college basketball version. The school is designing the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena and has offered it fans (and curious onlookers) four options from which they can reportedly choose the new court. We aren’t sure how much impact the fan voting (done here), but we would like to direct your attention to option 3. We are hoping that option 3 is a joke or we might have to make another post similar to the one we did for Oregon‘s court.
  5. The NCAA granted Toledo transfer Hayden Humes a waiver to play next season at the University of Illinois-Chicago after Toledo’s program lost three scholarships due to low APR scores. As a freshman Humes averaged 5.7 PPG and 5.1 RPG and he will be expected to contribute to a team that finished last in the Horizon League (7-24 overall, 2-16 in conference) and graduated its top three rebounders from last season. While Toledo will miss his production on the court they might miss his 3.43 GPA as a freshman even more as it may have been more helpful to the program in the long run.
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