March Madness is here! Today, a few of our writers will be giving their thoughts on the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
#8 Ohio vs. #9 Central Michigan
#5 Buffalo vs. #12 Miami (Ohio)
#7 Toledo vs. #10 Western Michigan
#6 Kent State vs. #11 Eastern Michigan
#1 Akron vs. #8 Ohio/#9 Central Michigan
#4 Northern Illinois vs. #5 Buffalo/#12 Miami (Ohio)
#2 Bowling Green vs. #7 Toledo/#10 Western Michigan
#3 Ball State vs. #6 Kent State/#11 Eastern Michigan
Who will win the Mid-American Conference Tournament?
Aram: #1 Akron (24-7, 14-4 in the MAC)
Akron, in my opinion is far and away the best team in this conference. All of their losses, outside of their recent one against Bowling Green, have been close losses. They played West Virginia and Louisville tough and even early on had the makings of being a good NCAA Tournament team.
Pat: #2 Bowling Green (21-10, 12-6 in the MAC)
After going on a tear to start conference play, the Falcons limped to the finish losing their last three games. However, they still got the number two seed and should get to the semis fairly easily. This is a pretty wide open tournament and I’m going with the Falcons because of their tremendous back-court depth, as well as their ability to really fill it up when they get hot.
TJ: #1 Akron (24-7, 14-4 in the MAC)
The name John Groce should be familiar to people around the MAC conference as he led the Ohio Bobcats to two NCAA tournaments in four years before leaving for Illinois. After a few seasons in the Big Ten, Groce found himself back in the MAC this time leading the Akron Zips. Akron has improved steadily over his three years there and are now on top of the MAC and have won 24 games this year. They are led in scoring by the guard play of Loren Cristian Jackson and Tyler Cheese. Senior Xeyrius Williams will also be a major factor for the Zips. The combination of Groce’s coaching experience and the talent on this team makes them exciting heading into the conference tournament.
Which team will be a Dark Horse Candidate to take home the title?
Aram: #8 Ohio (16-15, 8-10 in the MAC)
Ohio’s last two losses in the regular season were to Akron and Bowling Green, the top 2 seeds in this Conference. They played both of those teams tough losing by just 7 to Akron and 1 to Bowling Green, both on the road. Jason Preston is a star that not many people in the nation know about. He’ll get his shine in this Tournament.
Pat: #6 Kent State (19-12, 9-9 in the MAC)
The sixth seeded Golden Flashes are one of those teams that play to the level of their competition, making them a perfect sleeper candidate. When they get going, Danny Pippen and Antonio Williams are one of the best 1-2 punches in the league.
TJ: #5 Buffalo (20-11, 11-7 in the MAC)
Buffalo lost a lot from last year’s squad that made waves. Former Head Coach Nate Oats left for the Alabama job and Buffalo lost three key players in CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris however the Buffs chose to keep the new coaching hire in-house with Jim Whitesell. Jayvon Graves has emerged as the new star while Jeenathan Williams has taken major strides since his freshman campaign last year. Overall, Buffalo has five guys averaging double figures and have wins over Akron, Ball State, and Bowling Green. The Buffs will fight hard in the MAC tournament and you can’t count them out.
Who is one player that NBA teams should keep an eye on?
Aram: Jason Preston, Sophomore G – Ohio
I just spoke briefly about him, but let me go into a little more detail. Jason Preston is averaging over 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 rebounds per game as just a sophomore. He is electric in the pick and roll and can always be relied upon. His 51% FG% is extremely impressive given the fact that he has shot the most shots on this team (382) this season. He is absolutely someone that NBA teams will be keeping their eyes on in this Tournament and for years to come.
Pat: Antonio Williams, Senior G – Kent State
The athletic sophomore point guard has crazy bounce, and can be a real problem when he’s at his best. He closed out the regular season with a bang, averaging 21 points over his last five games, including his career high of 34 in an overtime loss to Buffalo. He has the athletic ability and several other tools to be a good pro, and if he plays with more consistency and leads Kent State on a big run in March, he’ll start gaining more national attention.
TJ: Luke Knapke, Senior C – Toledo
Luke Knapke is a guy that has taken major strides since stepping foot on campus. Standing at 6’11, Knapke is a great rim protector and is now the Rockets all time leader in blocks. The big has improved his frame steadily since arriving in Northwest Ohio and has some serious stretch big potential shooting over 37% from deep every year of his career. Knapke is top-10 in the conference in scoring, rebounding, 3PT%, and leads the conference in blocks. On the year his averages are 15.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 2.2 APG.