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MAC Basketball Weekly Recap



Tuesday, January 10

Ball State 70, Toledo 68

Wednesday, January 11

Akron 56, Bowling Green 55

Ohio 60, Buffalo 52

Central Michigan 60, Eastern Michigan 56

Kent State 71, Miami-Ohio 67

Western Michigan 77, Northern Illinois 68

Saturday, January 14

Eastern Michigan 51, Ball State 48

Western Michigan 74, Toledo 52

Akron 68, Ohio 63

Northern Illinois 74, Central Michigan 66

Miami-Ohio 52, Buffalo 51

Kent State 92, Bowling Green 87

Last year, the Akron Zips emerged from a completely crowded field to snare the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Zips are much more of a marked team, but so far, they're handling the pressure that comes with bearing the bullseye in a mid-major conference.

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The big tilt in the MAC this past week was Akron's encounter with Ohio University. You will recall that Ohio won the 2010 MAC Tournament and made its way to the Big Show, when the Bobcats, as a No. 14 seed, stunned third-seeded Georgetown in the first round. Ohio didn't just beat the Hoyas, it bludgeoned GU with a high-flying, fast-pace game that generated a festival of dunks and threes. Ohio possesses an appreciably robust brand name in the world of MAC basketball, so Akron was facing a formidable foe in the early stages of the new conference season.

Based on the Zips' response to the crucible of crunch-time competition against Ohio, they show every indication of being ready to defend their MAC Tournament title.

Over the long run of a basketball season, the superstars will carry the bulk of the load, but role players and reserves have to make timely contributions, those small but telling interventions that tip the balance in key moments. Akron received one such contribution against Ohio. The Zips were down 57-55 with 4:30 left in regulation, but Alex Abreu scored all of his five points in just over two minutes to revitalize his team in a time of tension. That Abreu flurry, a 3-pointer and subsequent two-point jumper, powered a 9-0 Akron burst, and the Zips found the finishing kick they so clearly needed. That's how winning seasons, successful seasons, are built in the context of college basketball.

Earlier in the week, Akron also avoided the temptation to look ahead to Ohio by taking care of business against Bowling Green. The Zips were tested by the Falcons every step of the way in one of those defensive grinders that defines the bulk of a MAC season, but Akron made the one extra stop a game of such intensity required, and the Zips walked away with a one-point triumph.

Akron is only 3-0, meaning that the MAC season is just getting off the ground. However, these first three games have done nothing to suggest that the Zips will slide or stumble in this 2012 season.

> Check out the MAC basketball standings here @ VanDelay Sports

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer