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MAC Basketball Weekly Recap

 

Scores

Tuesday, February 21

Miami-Ohio 62 Kent State 60

Wednesday, February 22

Akron 79 Bowling Green 68

Ohio 88 Buffalo 77

Eastern Michigan 48 Northern Illinois 45

Toledo 72 Central Michigan 67

Western Michigan 78 Ball State 61

Saturday, February 25

Buffalo 84 Miami-Ohio 74

Bowling Green 74 Kent State 58

Eastern Michigan 61 Ball State 50

Toledo 83 Western Michigan 74

Sunday, February 26

Central Michigan 74 Northern Illinois 64

Ohio 85 Akron 61

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The question has to be asked: Have the Ohio Bobcats begun to peak at the right time, or is their resurgence a case of "too little, too late, too inconclusive"? Ohio began the season with high hopes for the MAC regular-season championship, but in midseason, the Bobcats stumbled and fell behind pace-setting Akron, surprising Buffalo, and steady Kent State in the MAC East Division standings. This past week, however, the boys from Athens, Ohio, rebounded in fine form, decking second-place Buffalo and then routing first-place Akron to zoom upward in the standings. Ohio began the week with an 8-4 MAC record, putting the Bobcats in fourth place behind 11-1 Akron, 9-3 Buffalo, and 9-3 Kent State. Now, after two convincing victories plus two losses by Kent State, the outlook is manifestly different for coach John Groce's club. Akron still leads the division (and the conference, since the West is led by 8-6 Eastern Michigan) at 12-2, but Ohio is now in second place at 10-4, tied with 10-4 Buffalo. Kent State tumbled to fourth place at 9-5, the result of an awful week for the Golden Flashes. Ohio is now in the driver's seat for a high seed in the MAC Tournament and - importantly - a chance to avoid Akron until the final round. The MAC does have two six-team divisions, but it does not seed or bracket its tournament in accordance with the divisions. The league seeds teams 1 through 12, ensuring that the No. 2 seed stays on the opposite half of the bracket, safely removed from the No. 1 seed. The Southeastern Conference and the Sun Belt Conference have historically seeded their tournaments by using divisions. Under such a setup, Ohio - as the possible No. 3 seed from the East Division - could have been in a position to play the East's "hypothetical" top seed, Akron, in the semifinals. However, a non-division-based seeding and bracketing procedure means that as long as Ohio finishes second or third, it will avoid Akron until the final. That's what Ohio and Buffalo are playing for this upcoming week. Since Buffalo must visit Akron in what will be the Zips' home finale, Ohio has to like its chances of getting the No. 2 seed. All signs are pointing to an Ohio-Akron clash for the MAC's automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. Such a matchup would give fans of MAC basketball much of what they've been hoping for this season.



 

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By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer