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MAC Basketball Weeknight Preview
Central Michigan at Buffalo
Last time out: Zach Filzen put up 26 but Buffalo’s six game win streak ended on the road to the Cardinals. They had a chance in the final minute but Jawaan Alston could not capitalize enough on Byron Mulkey’s big steal. Alston made just one of two from the line with 43 second left. The margin of defeat for the Bulls: one point. Central Michigan got 14 points from the Brazilian Andre Coimbra but shot just a little over 31 percent from the field in a 13-point loss at Kent State.
What to expect: Buffalo remains the hottest team in the MAC, still winners of six of its last seven. Buffalo…#1 in field goal percentage in the MAC. Central Michigan…last. Coming back home, the Bulls won’t have much trouble with the Chippewas, losers of four of their last five.
Prediction: Buffalo 86, Central Michigan 74
Ball State at Bowling Green
Last time out: Bowling Green’s three-game win streak came to an end at Western Michigan. The Falcons’ big stumbling block was on the boards where they were outrebounded 44-25. Ball State finally got back on track breaking a four-game losing streak. The 72-71 win over Buffalo was in large part due to 53 percent three-point shooting and Jauwan Scaife’s 22 points.
What to expect: Ball State looks better in most statistical categories but it’s a home game for the East, which is still outplaying the West this season. On paper, this one should be all Ball State. The Cardinals shoot the three well and the Falcons do not defend well against it. The Cardinals are the better rebounding, shooting and defensive team. That’s what all the stats say. But I still have a sneaking suspicion what’s on paper won’t tell this game’s story.
Prediction: Bowling Green 68, Ball State 62
Toledo at Ohio
Last time out: A career-high day for Ivo Baltic with 31 points was enough to make up for Ohio’s paltry one of eight three-point shooting in a home win against Northern Illinois. Toledo’s total number of points was just two handfuls larger than Baltic’s, as the Rockets lost 59-41 to Akron.
What to expect: It would be a real surprise to see an again reeling Rockets squad come onto the road and take a weeknight tilt, no matter the Bobcats’ inconsistent nature thus far this season
Prediction: Ohio 71, Toledo 59
Western Michigan at Akron
Last time out: The Zips’ tough defense stymied Toledo and allowed them to get 22 points off of 16 turnovers in their commanding win. A double-double from a bench player with pedigree Juwan Howard Jr. propelled the Broncos to victory. Western had 19 more rebounds than Bowling Green.
What to expect: This is one of the more intriguing matchups on the midweek slate. Akron cannot seem to find a way to win two in a row going back and forth in its last five games. Western Michigan is a far superior rebounding team and I think those second chances make the difference.
Prediction: Western Michigan 70, Akron 63
Northern Illinois at Miami
Last time out: Xavier Silas scored 25 but it was with just six made field goals. The Huskies could not overcome a first half where the offense looked cold and out of sync in their loss to Ohio. Miami escaped on the road against Eastern Michigan. The Redhawks shot an abysmal 18 percent from the field in the first half and were down as many as twenty and by 13 at the final TV timeout. But then it was an 18-6 Miami run punctuated with Jon Harris’ three at the buzzer to complete the comeback win.
What to expect: Northern Illinois’ size is a problem and Julian Mavunga creates a matchup problem to the detriment of the Huskies. Miami feeds off the emotion of its weekend win and gets one again, in a lot less agitating fashion.
Prediction: Miami 75, Northern Illinois 69
Eastern Michigan at Kent State
Last time out: After a trouncing at the hands of Buffalo, it has been Kent State doing the dominating. The Golden Flashes have won their last four by double digits. That includes their win over Central Michigan, in which Rodriguez Sherman scored 17 and the Flashes shot lights out in the second half. The win put Kent State on top of the MAC East. Eastern Michigan had that collapse at home to Miami where they hemorrhaged a 20-point lead. It was sour ending to another strong performance by Brandon Bowdry who had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
What to expect: Kent State is on a tear and its hard to see Eastern Michigan going on the road and even giving much of a challenge. Justin Greene will neutralize Brandon Bowdry and that takes away Eastern’s real big advantage.
Prediction: Kent State 78, Eastern Michigan 65
By Connor Kiesel