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MAC Wrap - Week 7
MAC Record: 7-5
My predictions: 10-2
BracketBuster Saturday went mostly to form for the MAC squads. In 11 of the 12 games, the team with the higher estimated RPI emerged the winner. The only exception was Ohio’s win over Wright State, which was a positive win for the MAC side, with Wright State boasting a higher ranking. The MAC went 1-1 in its TV games with Akron falling to VCU and Kent State besting Western Carolina.
Game of the Day
Buffalo 77, St. Peter’s 75 OT
There was more drama in this BracketBuster showdown than just than the inherent drama of the MAC vs. MAAC common sound name showdown.
First, St. Peter’s Nick Leon hit a three with less than a second left to tie it at 63 and send the game to overtime.
Fast forward to overtime and flip the script. It’s Buffalo’s Sean Smiley hitting a game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
Those were Smiley’s two biggest of 14 points on the day. Rodney Pierce was the Bulls’ leading scorer with 22 points. Calvin Betts provided a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds). The game’s top scorer came from the Peacocks, with Nick Leon scoring 25.
The tempo of the game played into St. Peter’s hands. It was low scoring and the Peacocks’ defense held the Bulls’ offense well in check. Buffalo shot just 39.7% from the field compared to St. Peter’s 47.2%.
However, St. Peter’s ultimate undoing was its mistakes with the ball. 23 Peacock turnovers led to 15 Buffalo points. That was just too much to overcome.
A good win for Buffalo on the road in an out-of-conference game. It was a chance to show moxie and overcome some shooting struggles by forcing mistakes. You must be able to find different ways to win and the turnovers were Buffalo’s key here.
Weeknight Run Through
Ohio 70, Miami 68
What do John Wall and Tommy Freeman have in common?
Both have now made game-winning shots against Miami.
The 185th Battle of the Bricks, a great MAC rivalry, came down to the final second. And it was Tommy Freeman who was the night’s hero.
Freeman hit a three with .6 seconds remaining to give the Bobcats the win over their archrival. He had 19 for the night, going six of eight from beyond the arc. DeVaughn Washington led the way with 25 points, a career-high.
A lot happened in the final minute of this one, so let’s go through the intense action:
It was a classic contest in a rivalry game, as the Ohio student section stormed the court once the action was complete.
Kenny Hayes was on his game for Miami scoring 20 points and 13 of Miami’s final 17. He did all he could to win the game for the Redhawks but the Bobcats just had the final answer with Freeman’s dagger.
The result only muddles the conference picture further. Miami looked like it may be pushing itself forward for the 4 th first round bye. However, now it is back among the group vying for the spot. At 6-8, Ohio’s chances see new life. That one shot by Freeman may be a catalyst. It wasn’t a stud at Kentucky this time but the scrappy shooter from Muncie that caused it to get away from Charlie Coles.
Northern Illinois 67, Central Michigan 65
As in Athens, it took the final second to decide a winner in DeKalb.
Jake Anderson made a layup with under a second left to win the game for the Huskies. Anderson scored the game’s final five points. Northern Illinois held the ball for the final 1:05, with Sean Kowal coming down with two rebounds to keep it in the Huskies’ possession.
Anderson made up for his nine turnovers with 23 points, including the game-winner, and five steals. Kowal had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Central led by as many 18 but saw it slip away. It also saw its MAC West lead slip away. Now at 7-7, the Chippewas are a game back of Ball State and tied with Western and Eastern Michigan.
Kent State 75, Bowling Green 69
Kent State’s poor first half was followed by a second half resurgence that led to victory. Down 12 at the break, the Golden Flashes shot 75% in the second half, as compared to 32.3 in the first. Justin Greene continued to be huge, scoring a game-high 26 points and pulling down six boards. A big discrepancy here came in turnovers, six for Kent State, as opposed to 17 for the Falcons. Kent State has now won 11 of its last 12 games.
Akron 77. Buffalo 67
Jimmy Conyers contributed a bit of everything for the Zips: 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Buffalo struggled mightily shooting, hitting just 34.4% total and just three of 18 three-point attempts. The Bulls performed better in the second half, with Rodney Pierce scoring all 19 of his points. However, it was too late to surmount a comeback from a 16-point halftime deficit. Five Zips scored in double-digits, with the team shooting over 50 percent as a whole.
Eastern Michigan 72, Ball State 67
In a game that didn’t really play into its style, Ball State fell to Eastern Michigan. The Eagles’ two big guys came up big. Brandon Bowdry had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Justin Dobbins put up 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Ball State outshot Eastern by more than 10%. However, there were a total of 109 field goals attempted for the game. Eastern Michigan took 32 three-point attempts and made nine of them.
Western Michigan 61, Toledo 41
Toledo has two more tries to avoid a regular season conference goose egg. It was another rough day for the Rockets offense, which shot just 31.1% against a stout Broncos D. David Kool had an easy night, playing just 23 minutes and scoring two points. Martelle McLemore and Flenard Whitfield paced the Broncos with 19 and 12 points respectively. Justin Anyijong and Jake Barnett combined to take two-thirds of Toledo’s shots. Anyijong was 3-15 and Barnett 6-15. That’s not going to do it.
Where we stand going into the final week:
If the tournament started today:
First Round Byes
#2 Ball State
#3 Kent State
First Round Games (at campus sites)
#12 Toledo at #5 Miami
#11 Northern Illinois at #6 Eastern Michigan
#10 Bowling Green #7 Western Michigan
#9 Ohio at #8 Central Michigan
Outside of the top two, this conference is jumbled; very jumbled. Just two games separate three through ten. With the right results, Ohio or Bowling Green could go from facing the prospect of first round road games to not even having to worry about a first round game. A lot is to be decided in this final week…
MAC Weekend Forecast
Western Michigan at Central Michigan- the Chippewas handle business at home.
Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan- the Eagles don’t take 32 threes this time but Bowdry overtakes Kowal inside.
Akron at Bowling Green- Akron has won six conference games in a row but goes on the road to face a Bowling Green team that needs this game more to bolster its tournament prospects. Advantage: Falcons.
Miami at Kent State- Miami will keep it close but at the end of the day, the Redhawks just do not have success on the road. I don’t see them turning a corner against one of the MAC’s hottest teams.
Ohio at Buffalo- coming off an emotional rivalry win, Ohio comes out flat on the road, falling to a Buffalo team that gets revenge for an earlier double-digit loss to the Bobcats.
Ball State at Toledo- I’m not sure now that Toledo is going to be able to find that elusive win again this season. This is the Rockets’ last home game, so it may be their last best chance. But Ball State is just going to be too much.
By Connor Kiesel