Conference Tournament Primer: Mid-American Conference

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 10th, 2014

Championship Fortnight continues with yet two more conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the next week of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the MAC and the MEAC get started.

Dates: March 10, 12-15
Site: First Round: Campus sites; Second Round, Quarters, Semis and Championship: Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH)

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What to expect: The MAC’s power pendulum has swung numerous times this season, so it’s difficult to tell which contender has the best shot in Cleveland. Buffalo came on strong in the second half of the year and might boast the league’s most dominant player in Javon McCrea, a double-double machine who recently set the school’s all-time scoring record, while Western Michigan enters the event having won 10 of its last 11 games. Toledo, meanwhile, set a school record with 26 overall wins and will get a triple-bye (yes, a triple-bye) all the way to the semifinals, along with the Broncos. More likely than not, one of those three clubs will emerge as champion. Still, don’t be surprised if one of the conference’s other up-and-down challengers – like recent NCAA Tournament representatives Ohio and Akron – put together a run and leave with a trophy.

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O26 Weekly Awards: Akron, Taylor Braun, Marvin Menzies & Texas Southern…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 25th, 2013

While this past week may have been devoid of many huge upsets or season-defining wins, there was certainly no shortage of great basketball games and interesting storylines across the O26 landscape. Just take Saturday, for example: There were 11 players who scored 30+ points, seven games that went to overtime, a few big boys taken down at home, an example of HAVOC on steroids, a MAC squad that improved to 11-0, an 81-possession game, a coast-to-coast buzzer beater… and a partridge in a pear tree. And remember, that was all in one day. So as Christmas is here, let’s take a moment to pass out some weekly honors to a few top performers.

O26 Team of the Week

Demetrius Treadwell and the Akron Zips had a fine week. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Demetrius Treadwell and the Akron Zips had a fine week. (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)

Akron. Yes, the Zips were throttled over the final 13 minutes by Iowa State in Hawai’i on Monday, and no, they are not the aforementioned undefeated MAC team—that’s headline-generating Toledo. But over a three-game span last week, stretching from The JAR in Akron to the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Keith Dambrot’s group was nothing short of excellent. At home on Monday, Akron took an early lead on Southland favorite Oral Roberts and never relinquished control, as 6’7’’ forward Demetrius ‘Tree’ Treadwell recorded his first of three-straight double-doubles and the Zips forced 20 turnovers en route to a 10-point win. It was their best home win of the young season and a sign of good play to come. That is, until Wednesday, when things got off to extremely rocky start against Horizon League foe Detroit. At one point trailing 22-8 in the first half, the Zips saw their win probability dip below 30 percent and wound up taking a nine-point deficit into the locker room. To any clear-sighted onlooker it would have appeared that an upset was beginning to take hold… until the second half began. Seemingly at the drop of a hat, Akron took complete—and I mean complete—control of the basketball game, nailing three three-pointers in less than two minutes to tie it up and then proceeding to blitz the Titans out of the gym with a 58-point second half and a 19-point victory. It was an impressive run, and Treadwell finished with a superb 22-point, 13-rebound line. But it was by no means the team’s finest moment of the week.

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Holiday Hoops Mission Briefing: Oregon State In The Diamond Head Classic

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on December 21st, 2013

One Pac-12 early-season tournament remains, and we break down the road ahead this Christmas for Oregon State.

What They’ve Done So Far: If you could use one word to describe the start to Oregon State‘s season, strange would fit the bill. The Beavers opened with a loss to now 4-5 Coppin State, but they were without starting forward Devon Collier, who is averaging 21.3 PPG and 9.6 RPG, who served a one game suspension because of a failed drug test administered during the summer. They have since won six of their last seven, two of which coming against possible NCAA Tournament teams in Maryland and Towson.

Combo Forward Devon Collier Has Been A Force Down Low For The Beavers So Far This Season (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

Combo Forward Devon Collier Has Been A Force Down Low For The Beavers So Far This Season (credit: Andy Wooldridge)

First Round Preview: The Beavers kickoff play in Honolulu on Sunday afternoon against Akron. Everything goes through senior forward Demetrius Treadwell for the Zips, who averages 14.6 PPG. But while Treadwell dominates the post, there are plenty of other targets that the soft Beaver defense will have to keep an eye on. Sophomore small forward Reggie McAdams has good range and has knocked down 12 of 25 three-point attempts for a 48% clip. Another senior big, Quincy Diggs is a top ten player in the MAC and can play any position except center. Diggs is the team’s second leading scorer, but his defense his key. When playing man, expect head coach Keith Dambrot to put him on the Beavers’ senior Roberto Nelson, who leads the team with 22.1 PPG. If the Zips have any shot of an at-large bid come March, they will need a win here, so I expect them to come out firing on all cylinders. This one should come down to a battle between Collier and Treadwell in the paint. The winner of that battle advances into the winner’s bracket. Definitely a game to watch late Sunday as you enter your Christmas vacation.

Potential Later Round Matchup: Considering the Beavers tend to play up to their competition, and that they will have a decided home court advantage with at least 300 Oregon State fans making the trip with the football team playing in the Hawaii Bowl two days later, I’m going to project a tight win and send them into a semifinal matchup, most likely against #17 Iowa State, who faces 5-4 George Mason in its opener. I don’t see the Beavs springing a Top 20 upset, however, and if the bracket holds to form, they would face Boise State in the third place game (less than 24 hours after the Beavers and Broncos meet on the gridiron across the way at Aloha Stadium). Another possible choice in that third game is Saint Mary’s, who comes to the Islands boasting a 9-0 record.

Outlook: For the Beavers to have any decent chance at the NCAA Tournament, they need two wins in Honolulu. And with teams like Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Arkansas-Pine Bluff dragging down Oregon State’s RPI, a trip to the winner’s bracket is also a must. A loss to Akron would mean George Mason on day two and most likely Hawaii in the final game, much less appealing games. You can catch Oregon State’s opener at 4:45 PM Pacific on Sunday on ESPNU.

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Rushed Reactions: #6 VCU 88, #12 Akron 42

Posted by Will Tucker on March 21st, 2013

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Will Tucker is a RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #6 VCU and #12 Akron from Auburn Hills. You can also find him on Twitter @blrdswag.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. As if there was any doubt, VCU proved it’s back in Tournament form. After losing a tough Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship to Saint Louis, the Rams showed no semblance of a hangover. They mercilessly inflicted their havoc system on Akron for 40 minutes, generating 34 points off of 22 Akron turnovers, 20 of which came on fast breaks. A Zips player told reporters after the game, “We used so much energy trying to get the ball up the court that we couldn’t guard them.” After shooting below 34% and hitting 3-of-18 three-point attempts against SLU, the Rams found their range in their NCAA opener, draining 8-of-16 from beyond the arc and shooting 54% overall.

    Shaka Smart and his fiest VCU squad jumped all over Akron Thursday night. (Getty)

    Shaka Smart and his fiest VCU squad jumped all over Akron Thursday night. (Getty)

  2. Lack of size didn’t hamper the Rams against the bigger Zips and 7’ senior Zeke Marshall. There were concerns that VCU’s undersized frontcourt would be a significant liability in the Tournament, but in their first game the Rams used a collaborative effort to defend and rebound inside. 6’9″, 235-pound Juvonte Reddic, the team’s biggest starter, scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbed five boards. His teammates did the rest, as five of them grabbed three or more rebounds, helping to build advantages of 36 to 29 in rebounding and 40 to 28 in points in the paint.
  3. The game was essentially over after VCU doubled up on Akron 50-25 at halftime, but Shaka Smart didn’t let up. The Rams again doubled Akron’s scoring in the second half, led by 48 with 6 minutes left, and their 46-point margin of victory was apparently the largest ever in a 6/12 seeding matchup. This was particularly uncomfortable because Smart and Akron coach Keith Dambrot are close friends, but the Zips coach said it wasn’t a disrespectful gesture. “He’s got a job to do. His job is to prepare his team to win the next game, and I don’t take any offense to it,” Dambrot said. For his part, Shaka insisted the Zips were victims of circumstance and a poor matchup, and that he called off his trap with nine minutes left and his press with seven remaining. “There was a lot of time on the clock. We’re not just going to fall back in a zone, that’s not what we do,” Smart said.

Star of the GameTroy Daniels edged Reddic for this one after scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, hit 6-of-11 threes, and grabbed five rebounds in 21 minutes. Most importantly, the 6’4″ senior guard atoned for a scoreless performance in 17 minutes against SLU.

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Bracket Prep: Akron, Louisville, Northwestern State, Montana, Oregon, Pacific & New Mexico State

Posted by BHayes on March 17th, 2013

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Saturday’s flurry of bid snatching wound down out West and left us with a near-complete picture of the puzzle. Just four automatic bids remain to be earned on Selection Sunday. As we have for each of the 31 automatic qualifiers to play their way into the Dance, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets this week.

Akron

Zeke Marshall And Akron Overcame Late-Season Drama To Reach The NCAA Tournament

Zeke Marshall And Akron Overcame Late-Season Drama To Reach The NCAA Tournament

  • MAC Champion (26-6, 16-2)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #49/#54/#62
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +10.7
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #12-#13

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. Last year’s Tournament darlings, the Ohio Bobcats, saw their shot at a return bid die on Saturday night, but don’t be surprised if their conquerors put some of that MAC mojo to use again this year. The Akron Zips turned in one of the most impressive performances of the day, comprehensively picking apart a good Ohio team en route to the MAC Tournament title. A pair of late regular season losses had recently killed the bubble talk surrounding the Zips, but let’s not forget how they entered the conversation in the first place. Keith Dambrot’s club ripped off 19 straight wins between December 15th and March 2nd in what still measures up as the longest winning streak in all of college basketball this season.
  2. Akron is as well-rounded a mid-major as you will find, but the Zips truest strength lies in a tougher-than-nails frontcourt. Demetrius Treadwell is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.4 PPG and leading rebounder at 7.9 RPG. His crafty, below-the-rim game may not be the sexiest, but it’s a great complement to the other important Zip on the interior, 7’0” Zeke Marshall. Marshall is the team’s leading scorer (13 PPG) and one of the nation’s leaders in FG percentage at 66%, but the big senior truly excels on the defensive side of the ball. He boasts the 4th best block percentage in the country (14.1%), and is, quite literally, a huge reason why Akron is one of the 20 best teams in the country in effective field goal percentage defense.
  3. The March suspension of point guard Alex Abreu (for drug charges) momentarily shook the team, but back-to-back good wins provide Keith Dambrot with some hope that his team has moved on, however much the loss of Abreu (10.3 PPG, 6.0 APG) hurts on the floor. Freshman Carmelo Betancourt has seen his minutes rise from 10 to 26 a game since the Abreu suspension, but the youngster will certainly not be asked to replicate Abreu’s production. The Zips have won with a balanced, team approach all season long, and the “next man up” attitude should come naturally for Betancourt and others. Dont overlook that even before that 19-game surge, the Zips beat Middle Tennessee State, pounded Penn State (by 25) and took OK State to overtime. Could a MAC team crash the Big Dance for the second straight season?

Louisville

A Decisive Second Half Surge Made The Cardinals Big East Tournament Champions For The Second Straight Season

A Decisive Second Half Surge Made The Cardinals Big East Tournament Champions For The Second Straight Season

  • Big East Champion (29-5, 17-4)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #3/#2/#1
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +19.2
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

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Morning Five: 07.23.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2012

  1. One of the more interesting aspects of summer is the media hype over the next big superstar that comes out of various camps. The latest “next big thing” appears to be Andrew Wiggins, who already was the #1 recruit in the class of 2014, but may have taken over the title of the top high school player in the country that left numerous college basketball pundits sounding like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. With Jabari Parker, the #1 player in the class of 2013, sitting at home nursing a foot injury that he tried to play through earlier this summer Wiggins took on Julius Randle, the player many consider to be the #2 player in the class of 2013. What happened during their match-up was described as “mass destruction” in the words of Jeff Goodman and he may have been the most reserved observer in attendance. We tend to take all of the summer events with a grain of salt and are not ready to anoint anybody yet, but Wiggins appears to be a player worth keeping an eye on for the next few years.
  2. With the ugliness of the Penn State scandal mostly behind us we had hoped that we would be done with news reports about schools being investigated for their handling of such charges, but it turns out that Syracuse may be next in line to be put through the wringer if Gloria Allred had her way. The celebrity lawyer, who is representing Bernie Fine accuser Bobby Davis, has asked the New York State Attorney General to investigate Syracuse for not reporting Davis’ allegations to the police. Citing the Clery Act, a law with which we have become all too familiar with thanks to Penn State and Syracuse, Allred claims that Syracuse failed to live up to its obligation to report the accusations. This story will probably be hanging out in the background while people continue to pontificate on the situation at Penn State, but watch for it to come back to the surface as basketball season draws near.
  3. We have not been to Rick Pitino‘s personal site since we stumbled upon this gem a few years ago, but perhaps we should check it out more often as he posted a blog post on Saturday where he suggested that ESPN analyst Jay Bilas should be the next commissioner of the Big East. We are not sure if Pitino is being serious here or if he is joking around because Bilas does not have any of the credentials we would expect from a conference commissioner, but then again there have been quite a few conference commissioners who seemed to lack the necessary credentials. For his part Bilas has dismissed the idea in his typical flippant fashion. We doubt that anything will come of this as we all know it is much easier to be critical from the outside than it is to effect change from within.
  4. The money each year may not be surprising for a Division I coach, but the length of the contract extension that Akron coach Keith Dambrot signed after he agreed in principle to a 10-year deal that is estimated to have a base salary of $400,000 per year (a 25% raise from his prior contact). Dambrot, who is still best known for being LeBron James‘ high school coach, has compiled a record of 184-87, a MAC regular season title, two NCAA Tournament appearances, and three NIT appearances in eight seasons with the Zips. We are not aware of any source that keeps track of these sort of things, but we doubt that there are many Division I coaches with contracts that run that long.
  5. Jeremy Lin may not be returning to Madison Square Garden (outside of a yearly visit), but the NIT Season Tip-Off and the NIT will be for at least the next three years after reaching an agreement with the NCAA. While the Season Tip-Off has retained some of its luster as it occasionally attracts big programs that have good teams, the NIT, which had historically been a rival to the NCAA Tournament, has become an afterthought in college basketball as it fields teams that are mostly disappointed to be there. Still the event remains synonymous with New York and if it generates some travel dollars for New York we can understand it to a degree. We are interested in seeing what happens to MSG’s stock price today to see how the market reacts to the news of the NIT staying in Madison Square Garden.
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Morning Five: 04.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 6th, 2012

  1. After months of waiting Connecticut finally heard from the NCAA regarding its appeal against their 2013 NCAA Tournament ban for low APR scores. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the response was not the one they wanted to hear as the NCAA rejected the appeal so now the Huskies will be forced to sit out the NCAA Tournament. Outside of the immediate impact of the team not being able to play in the Big East and NCAA Tournament next year, this will likely have a significant influence on the NBA Draft decisions of Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond as well as the inevitable retirement of Jim Calhoun (he has to retire sometime, right?). And of course, as we have mentioned several times before this also means that Alex Oriakhi would be able to play for the school that he transfers to for next season without having to sit out a year. Although the Huskies do not have any other players who would appear to be in urgent need of going to a program that could play in the NCAA Tournament next year, it will be interesting to see if other players try to leave the program too.
  2. While some of Connecticut players may be leaving school early, there are at least a few notable names that will be staying in college. Yesterday, James Michael McAdoo, Isaiah Canaan, and Kenny Boynton all announced that they would be returning to their respective schools next season. McAdoo is perhaps the most interesting case as his playing time was limited by a loaded frontline in front of him at North Carolina, but he still would have been a first round pick. Now he will return to a Tar Heel team that has lost a lot of its minutes and McAdoo should be ready to showcase his skills for the nation and the NBA scouts. Canaan, who is coming off a spectacular junior year at Murray State, would not have been a first round pick so his return seems reasonable although we are not sure how much he can improve his stock unless he works on his point guard skills as the NBA is typically not in love with 6’0″ shooting guards. For us, the decision by Boynton to come back for his senior year at Florida seems like a no-brainer. While we have had issues with Boynton’s tendency to jack up shots (he will almost definitely end up as the school’s all-time leader in field goal attempts), his place in the Gator rotation should be more clear next season with the departure of at least one and probably two pieces from what was a crowded backcourt this season. Boynton will still probably end up playing overseas, but at least now he will have a chance to prove himself without a ton of other redundant options available to the coaching staff.
  3. Is this the beginning of the end for the ESPN BracketBusters event? One of the marquee conferences involved in the annual late February series of games, the CAA, has moved on to make an exclusive partnership deal with NBCSports Network starting in 2013, and therefore it will no longer participate in the event. In different-but-same news, the Mountain West’s television arm, The Mountain, will cease operations at the end of June as the league figures out its next step with a pending merger with Conference USA. This news undoubtedly will be received well far and wide for those of us who hated tuning into the fishbowl otherwise known as The Mtn’s production values every weekend. To whoever killed this network: Thank You.
  4. We’ve heard of a lot of crazy recruiting stories over the years — some true, most not — but we’re not sure that anything approaches what Nerlens Noel reported that a Kentucky fan offered him over Final Four weekend: the man’s wife. At this point, it’s just hearsay, but Noel seemed to have enough belief in the offer to state, “nah, [he's] good,” so we’re generally tending toward belief on this one. Regardless of whether the surely fine young Mrs. was offered to a 17-year old, this much is true: Noel will choose between Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown in the coming week.
  5. While on the subject of recruiting, and really, what else is there at this time of year… the nation’s #1 recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, is considered a must-get for Ben Howland’s UCLA program. His list of schools is down to UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke, but there hasn’t been more pressure on a single coach to get a single player in recruiting circles since Cody Zeller inked for Tom Crean’s Indiana program a year and a half ago. As the recruiting analysts all preach, it isn’t even about the single year that Muhammad would spend in Westwood as much as the future cachet that he would provide. John Calipari was able to lock down he likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist through his work two and three years ago with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
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Morning Five: 07.12.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 12th, 2010

We’re back from the weekend with a great set of links from the past three days that caught our eye.

  1. Luke Winn with another great piece for SI. This time it is on Abdul Gaddy, who came out of high school last year rated just behind John Wall, but struggled in his first year at Washington. Gaddy was stuck behind Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton at Washington last season (both back this year too) and behind Kyrie Irving this summer on the U18 team, but both of his coaches Lorenzo Romar (at Washington) and Jeff Capel (on the US team) think he will develop into a solid player. We will be watching the development of Gaddy, who was just 17 years old for most of last season, with interest to see if he ever develops into the star many predicted him to be.
  2. We have to hand it to Bruce Pearl for picking up UNC-Wilmington transfer John Fields, who left the Seahawks after averaging 10.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game in his one season there. Fields has one more year of eligibility left and should add depth to a solid Volunteer team. He left the Seahawk program after a tumultuous season in which the head coach who had recruited him (Benny Moss) was fired at mid-season and replaced by Buzz Peterson. Because Fields will enroll in Tennessee’s graduate sports management program that was not available at his previous school, he will not have to sit out one season before playing for the Volunteers. We bet there’s another ACC team wouldn’t have minded picking up a little extra depth on the inside next season. We have a short clip from a local Tennessee news station interviewing Fields below.
  3. It looks like Jon Scheyer might be moving from one championship team (Duke) to the Las Vegas favorites to win another championship (Miami Heat–we aren’t ready to hand them the title yet). Scheyer possesses several qualities as a player that the Heat need (reliable shooter who doesn’t make many mistakes and above all else will be cheap), but he won’t help in one area in which the Heat desperately need a boost — defense. We’re wondering if Coach K might lobby his USA National Team players (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) on behalf of his recently departed star guard.
  4. Speaking of the Miami Heat, Frank Haith believes that the arrival of LeBron and Bosh will be a tremendous tool for the Hurricanes’ recruiting. We aren’t buying it for a second unless the three decide to pay back the NCAA all the money they have made in professional basketball and chase a NCAA title with Haith as their coach. The arrival of LeBron in Cleveland did absolutely nothing for college basketball in that area. LeBron may have helped his former high school coach Keith Dambrot, now at Akron, land a few recruits in the MAC, but just his presence in the city (and we don’t think he will do a single thing to help Miami recruit college players) will do absolutely nothing in the ACC against the likes of Coach K or Roy Williams actually coaching the players.
  5. When we first heard about the strange situation brewing out in Chicago where new DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell is refusing to release recruit Walter Pitchford from his signed national letter of intent we had flashbacks to the Randy Shannon/Robert Marve fiasco down in Miami in 2008 that got ugly very quickly. However, one-time RTC interview subject Adam Zagoria scooped everybody with the news that DePaul had released Pitchford from his signed commitment.
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Checking in on… the MAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 30th, 2010

Matt Giles is the RTC correspondent for the Mid-American Conference.

Standings as of 1/29

West Division

  1. Central Michigan            4-2       9-8
  2. Northern Illinois            4-2       8-10
  3. Ball State                               4-3       9-9
  4. Western Michigan          3-3       11-8
  5. Eastern Michigan            2-4       10-9
  6. Toledo                                     0-6       3-17

East Division

  1. Akron                                      4-2       14-6
  2. Kent State                             4-2       13-7
  3. Buffalo                                    3-3       10-6
  4. Bowling Green                  3-3       10-8
  5. Miami OH                              4-3       6-13
  6. Ohio                                          2-4       11-9

Superlatives

Team of the Week Ohio: After starting the conference season 0-4 against East Division foes, the Bobcats erupted from the three-point stripe in their only two games this week. In wins over Northern Illinois and Toledo, Ohio shot 46.7% from deep and dropped 99 points over both squads (it also helps that NIU and Toledo are two of the weakest defensive teams in conference play). Upcoming road games against Toledo and Eastern Michigan should prove whether Ohio is ready to blitz the conference in February; the road has been the Bobcats’ bugbear all season (3-6).

Player of the Week David Kool, Western Michigan: Not only does the 6-foot-3 guard lead the Broncos in PPG (20.1), three-point FG percentage with at least 25 attempts (38.2%) and offensive rating (121.9), the senior now also owns WMU’s career scoring record. In a loss to Akron Wednesday night, Kool dropped 30 and broke Manny Newsome’s 46-year old record. Kool currently has 1,790 points in his career and it’s conceivable he could break the 2,000 point barrier: five of WMU’s final 10 games are against teams allowing more than one point per possession.

Game of the Week Kent State 87, Akron 70: A grudge match between the top two East Division contenders? Check. A nationally televised game? Check. A 17-point loss … what? The last time a game between these two rivals was decided by 17 points or more was in the 2008 MAC championship game (won by the Golden Flashes). The Zips were outmanned on the boards, 38-28, and consequently, in a game where Akron suffered more than a few scoring droughts, Kent State’s 23-11 second chance points were too much to overcome.

Games of the Upcoming Week: Eastern Michigan at Miami, January 30, ESPNU, and Buffalo at Central Michigan, February 4. Central Michigan continues their East Division swing and will want to end the East Division’s dominance of the garnering the NCAA tournaments’ auto bid. A West Division team hasn’t made the Dance since 2005 (Central Michigan). One of the final ESPN-televised games on the MAC slate, the Miami-Eastern Michigan tilt will be the final chance — barring a run through the conference tournament — to see Miami’s Kenny Hayes live in action.

Superlatives: On January 20th, Miami’s Charlie Coles won his 217th game at Miami and is now the MAC’s all-time leader in career conference wins. Coles passed the record previously held by Darrell Hedric, who was a former coach at Miami.

Team Roundups

Central Michigan

Looking Back: The Chippewas had a topsy-turvy week. First, CMU hosted Northern Illinois and managed a win against an intra-divisional foe, 81-75. CMU ‘held’ NIU’s Xavier Silas to 26 points and Robbie Harman continued his impressive three-point turnaround, hitting 3 of 13 from deep. Harman is the best long-range shooter on the Chippewas this season and has upped his percentage from 34% to 42.8%. On Thursday, CMU started their East division swing with intentions of proving they are a contender in the conference, not just in their own division. Falling to Miami didn’t help their plans; CMU has held opponents to a scant 59.7 ppg in 2010 but the RedHawks managed to score 64 points  — four more than their conference average.

Looking Ahead: As previously stated, Central Michigan continues its play against East division foes, taking on Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Akron and Ohio. Second-place Northern Illinois is on a similar swing so if the Huskies struggle and CMU can finish the six-game trip with at least three wins, they could begin to distance themselves within the division.

Northern Illinois

Looking Back: Xavier Silas continues to rise up the MAC scoring ranks, totaling 57 points in two games (26 against CMU, 31 against Ohio). The junior transfer is now averaging 23.5 PPG – best in the conference – and the 6-foot-5 guard is tops in the conference in percentage of possessions used (32.0%) and percentage of shots taken (33.5%). NIU is not just a one-man team: Darion Anderson is 17th in the conference with a 12.0 ppg and the Huskies could become a dangerous team if sophomore Mike DiNunno emerges as a third option. The 5-foot-11 guard rang up 16 on Ohio. However, if Northern Illinois wants to unseat Central Michigan and run away with the East division title, the Huskies need to step up their defense. Sure, the Huskies are the second best at FG defense but they are the third-worst defensive team in the MAC, allowing opposing teams to drop 71.3 PPG. With Silas in the midst of a hot streak, NIU needs to focus on locking teams down.

Looking Ahead: NIU begins its East division swing and will take on the likes of Buffalo, Kent State, Akron and Miami. Look for at least three of the four games to be offensive affairs: Kent State, Buffalo and Akron all rank in the top five in terms of conference scoring offense while at the same time, ranking in the bottom half in scoring defense. If Silas continues to up his scoring average, he could be the first player to average more than 20 a season since John Bowler (20.1) of Eastern Michigan in 2005-06.

Ball State

Looking Back: For as long as Ken Pomeroy has kept his statistical database running, Ball State has cared little for defensive efficiency. In what technically should be considered Billy Taylor’s second ‘real’ season at the helm (don’t forget, he was dealt a rough hand when he took the job in 2007-08), Taylor has remade the Cardinals into the best defensive team in the MAC and overall as well (21st in the nation). Although their overall and conference records may not reflect their defensive superiority, Ball State has allowed only two teams to score above 70 points this season (Valparaiso and Tennessee Tech). Since scoring a meager 38 points against Central Michigan over two weeks ago, the Cardinals have been on a tear, winning four out of five games through defensive prowess. Just ask Miami and Buffalo (Ball State’s two wins this past week); the Cardinals held both squads under their season FG percentage (Miami 32.2%, normally at 42.6% and Buffalo 36.7%, normally at 41.7%).

Looking Ahead: Ball State is definitely the sleeper team in the West division (side note: should it really be surprising though? The Cardinals tied for the West division title in 2008-09) and will get a chance to showcase their defense when the Cardinals visit Ohio on Sunday. The Bobcats recently reeled off consecutive 99 point efforts and are the top scoring team in the conference.

Western Michigan

Looking Back: As we have already detailed, David Kool was RTC’s player of the week in the MAC. His 30-point effort against Akron wasn’t good enough for the win but the senior is on pace to break 2,000 points in his career. Even UA coach Keith Dambrot was impressed, saying he wanted a David Kool Western Michigan jersey. WMU did manage to get a win this week, defeating winless Toledo in Kalamazoo. Although the game was never in doubt, Bronco fans did get a chance to see what 2010-11 starting lineup will be; freshmen Nate Hutcheson scored 15 and Flenard Whitfield scored 11.

Looking Ahead: Western Michigan is in the middle of the pack in the West division and the MAC overall and they better start harvesting those wins quickly. Next season will undoubtedly be a rebuilding year as the Broncos will be losing David Kool, Donald Lawson and Martelle McLemore after this season (aka three of WMU’s top five scorers). If the Broncos want to send those seniors out with a memorable bang, they need to have a strong East division swing that starts Saturday at Kent State followed by a Monday affair at Buffalo.

Eastern Michigan

Looking Back: With Carlos Medlock completely healed from his injury that sidelined the guard the entire 2009 season, EMU was expected to compete in the MAC’s East division. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really happened. Medlock resumed his spot running the offense so EMU’s tempo has risen (62.4 possessions per game to 69.3) but for an experienced team, the Eagles have had their problems on the road – only two of their eight games on the road have been wins. However, since both games this past week were at home, EMU was not affected by the road jitters. Another disturbing trend, though, has emerged and that is the Eagles’ lack of defense. In their loss to Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan allowed the Falcons to connect on 49% of their FGs. In fact, opposing teams have shot well above 40% from the field in most of their nine losses. One positive to take from this past week: Brandon Bowdry is performing like a star. The junior is a rebounding machine, grabbing 28% of opposing teams’ misses and in the two-game span (a win over Ball State and the loss to BGSU), Bowdry averaged 7.1 RPG. The 6-foot-6 Bowdry does need to work on his free throw shooting though; Bowdry is fouled  just over 6 times per game but only shoots 50.4% from the stripe. One has to wonder if the team’s woeful FT percentage (65.9%) has contributed to some of their losses.

Looking Ahead: Eastern Michigan could pick up a few games this week against Miami and Akron. We have already mentioned the rebounding force that is Brandon Bowdry. Miami and Akron both struggle with offensive rebounds and EMU could have a field day thanks to second-chance points as well as quick run-outs after missed shots.

Toledo

Looking Back: According to Ken Pomeroy, the Rockets  — still winless in conference play – have a 40.5% chance of going winless in conference play. That is second-highest percentage among still-winless teams (Fordham leads with a 61% chance). The second half has doomed Toledo all season in conference play and it continued to hurt UT in losses to Western Michigan and Kent State this week. Although Gene Cross’ crew has struggled has never led after the first half either, they were outscored by a combined 15 points in the two games. Toledo is having a tough time breaking out of the cellar in most MAC offensive and defensive categories. The Rockets are last in scoring offense, FT and FG percentages, offensive rebounds, assists, steals, turnover margin and assist-to-turnover ratio. Basically, it has been a bleak winter in Toledo.

Looking Ahead: Tilts against Akron, Bowling Green and Ohio dot Toledo’s upcoming schedule and, barring an unforeseen upset, it doesn’t look like the Rockets will have enough offensive juice to keep these teams. Even Bowling Green, which ranks in the bottom half of scoring offense, still manages to average 12.2 more PPG than Toledo (61.2 to 49.0).

Akron

Looking Back: We have already mentioned that Akron lost this past week to Kent State due to their inability to corral defensive rebounds. In fact, this has been the Zips’ bugbear the entire season. Akron only grabs 22.8 defensive rebounds a game, good for ninth in conference play. Even though Zeke Marshall has helped on the glass, the Zips are still a smaller than average team. However, Akron is a deep team but will only succeed depending on how well the brothers McKnight (Brett and Chris) play. Against Kent State, Chris played well and scored 13 points while Brett struggled, connecting on only 1-6 from the field. In their win against Western Michigan, though, both Chris and Brett scored in double-digits.

Looking Ahead: According to Coach Dambrot, the MAC is becoming a balanced conference as well as developing into a much more competitive league. That being said, Akron’s next three games (against Toledo, Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois) are all at the James A. Rhodes H&PE Building so a four-game winning streak (counting last week’s win over WMU) is definitely not out of the question.

Kent State

Looking Back: Across the board, Kent State is a very good team. Whether it’s scoring (fourth in the MAC with 70.2 PPG) or defending the goal (third with 60.7 PPG), Kent State seems like an early favorite to make the MAC tournament championship game. A 87-70 win over Akron – a top team – confirmed that an auto bid could be waiting for the Golden Flashes after the season as they pounded the glass to a tune of 34-27. Then, Kent State handled Toledo, 60-49 – a team it should beat but could have become a trap game (especially after the big win over Akron).

Looking Ahead: Kent State is the second-best team in the MAC from the field, connecting on 44.6% in conference play. However, a Monday tilt against Northern Illinois could snakebite the Golden Flashes. Although we have noted NIU is not a good defensive team, they are the second-best team in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot a meager 39%.

Buffalo

Looking Back: Although Buffalo may not be the most offensively efficient team in the MAC (100.8 points per possession), the Bulls have phenomenal ball-handling skills. Buffalo leads the conference in assists (15.17) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.15) and is second in steals (8.0) and turnover margin (+1.83). So how did they lose both games (Ohio, 99-77 and Ball State, 75-69) this past week? The loss to Ohio is easy to explain: the Bulls turned the ball over 15 times (second most TOs by Buffalo in a conference game in 2010) and the fast play of the game also meant that leading scorer Rodney Pierce (18.1 PPG) would take a lot of shots. Problem is, he attempted 20 and only made six of them. Against Ball State, Buffalo didn’t turn the ball over nearly as much (six times) but apparently, on the way home from Athens, they forgot how to play defense. Ball State skewered Buffalo’s man D and connected on 55.5% of their shots.

Looking Ahead: The Bulls travel to Northern Illinois on Saturday and if UB against forgets how to play defense, it could be a long afternoon (and one guaranteed to keep the statisticians at the Convocation Center busy for a full two hours).

Bowling Green

Looking Back: It’s a miracle Bowling Green was able to pull out a win at Eastern Michigan (64-61). The Falcons have been the MAC’s best free throw shooting team in conference play (76.7%) but against EMU, their shaky FT shooting almost doomed them: 8-13 from the line. The 64-52 loss to Miami offered BGSU fans a glimpse of the future as sophomore Dee Brown scored 17 points off an impressive 3-5 shooting from deep. Three-point shooting has become Bowling Green’s forte; in 2009, the Falcons were third in conference play while in 2010, they have moved to first thanks to Joe Jakubowski (55%) and Brown (52.4%).

Looking Ahead: Expect a plethora of threes when Bowling Green matches up with Central Michigan on Saturday. The Falcons are eighth in the conference in guarding the long ball at 35.3% (but strangely, are the best when it comes to shooting from deep with a 40.4%) while the Chippewas shoot 37.5% from deep. If the statistics prove correct, CMU’s Robbie Harman, Brown and Jakubowski could all have career days. If BGSU does fall to CMU, at least they have Toledo next on the schedule.

Miami

Looking Back: Two wins and a loss are nice but even better was the milestone coach Charlie Coles reached. In a conference that is one of the oldest in college basketball, Coles’ feat is a testament to one of the better coaches in the game today whose teams continually thrive against BCS conferences.

Looking Ahead: Under Coles, Miami is a very good team at blocking shots. They lead the conference with over four per game and their block percentage is ranked 113th in the country (10.1%). Miami’s next two opponents, Eastern and Western Michigan, conversely, get blocked a lot (EMU 8.8% and WMU 10%) so the next two games should be fun times for Antonio Ballard and Adam Fletcher, who both rank in the MAC’s top ten for blocked shots.

Ohio

Looking Back: Ohio was RTC’s team of the week in the MAC and we have already detailed the offensive juggernaut that the Bobcats have become. If their offensive onslaught continues, Ohio and Ball State could wind up the teams in the MAC tournament no one wants to face.

Looking Ahead: On Sunday, opposing basketball strategies will collide. The top ranked offensive team (Ohio) will take on the top ranked defensive team (Ball State) in what should be a widely-watched game … if only the game was televised.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #19 – MAC

Posted by nvr1983 on October 18th, 2009

seasonpreview

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:

East

  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)

West

  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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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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NCAA Preview: Akron Zips

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Akron ( #13, South, Portland pod)
vs. Gonzaga (#4)
Thurs., 3/19 at 7:25 PM
Vegas Line: Akron, +11.5

General Profile
Location: Akron, Ohio
Conference: MAC, At-large
Coach: Keith Dambrot, 206-110
08-09 Record: 23-12, 10-6
Last 12 Games: 8-4, won 4 straight
Best Win: 63-59 at Niagara, December 1
Worst Loss: 83-79, at Northern Illinois, February 15
Off. Efficiency Rating: 101.4, 172nd
Def. Efficiency Rating: 92.0; 10th

Nuts ‘n Bolts
Star Player(s): Nate Linhart, 10.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Unsung Hero: Humpty Hitchins, 8.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None
Key Injuries: Freshman PG Humpty Hitchins, left ankle sprain. Missed MAC semifinals, but returned (limited) for title game
Depth: 36.5% (53th nationally), percentage of minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Shooting; avg 41.9% from field (246th nationally) and prone to foul trouble (avg over 20 fouls per game)
Will Make a Deep Run if…: Hell freezes over
Will Make an Early Exit if…: Gonzaga doesn’t run out of gas in the team bus on the way to the arena

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: 1986, lost in 1st round to Michigan 70-64
Streak: N/A
Best NCAA Finish: 1986, lost in first round
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): Not enough data (Minimum 8 bids)

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Akron football team won first-ever MAC football title with win in MAC Championship at Ford Field in Detroit in 2005
Distance to First Round Site: 2470 miles.
School’s Claim to Fame: LeBron James is from Akron and played for Zips Head Coach Keith Dambrot at St. Vincent/St. Mary High School. He occasionally goes back to work out with team.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Losses in the previous two MAC title games. Lost in 2007 on buzzer-beater by Miami and were beat by 19 by arch-rival Kent last season.
Prediction: After getting so close to the postseason the past two years, the Zips finally broke through and won the MAC Tournament for the first time ever. It gets the Zips back to the Big Dance for the first time since 1986 when a guy by the name of Bob Huggins led the Zips through the Ohio Valley Conference and into the NCAA Tournament. Huggins went on to bigger and better things. The Zips floundered for years. Finally Keith Dambrot has them in the tourney, but unfortunately that will be the high point for them. Akron just hasn’t matched up with NCAA tournament-bound programs this year, much like the rest of the MAC. They lost to Pitt by 19, Dayton by 4 and VCU by 4. They also lost by 19 to the A-10’s Rhode Island. Don’t expect much from Akron. Gonzaga should roll in this one.
Major RTC stories: Rydell’s Excessively Tinted Windows

Preview written by Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6

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