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2010 MAC Tournament Preview
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7. Western Michigan (16-14, 8-8)
Star player: David Kool
X Factor: Donald Lawson
Lawson, the senior center, could provide Western with a rebounding spark. He averages 7.3 RPG. He has had nine double-digit rebounding games.
Strengths: The Kool Factor, free throw shooting, rebounding margin
Weaknesses: 3 pt. field goal percentage and threes made
It’s all about David Kool. This will be the senior’s swan song. Like Miami’s Kenny Hayes, Kool has been here many times before and would love nothing more than to finish his run with a tournament championship. Kool is averaging 21 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.6 APG and 1.7 assists per game. It is quite simple for the Broncos; they will go as far as Kool can take them. The first round matchup with Bowling Green will not be easy but a win here puts them in line to face Central in the quarters rather than Kent or Akron.
8. Ball State (15-14, 8-8)
Star player: Jarrod Jones
X Factor: Randy Davis
The freshman has improved his play exponentially this season. He has gone from a 26.8 FG % to over 40% in 2009-10. However, there is always the fear that Davis will revert back to old ways and get cold in a given game, as in when he went 0-7 against Miami or 1-7 against UT-Martin. Davis has gone from taking four or five shots a game to seven or more in each of Ball State’s last nine games. The Cardinals cannot afford him to get cold if he continues to be more part of the offense.
Strengths: Overall defense, 3 pt. defense, rebounding margin
Weaknesses: Turnover margin, scoring slumps
Ball State has lost its last three, not a good way to go into the tournament. The 45-42 loss to Toledo was alarming and exposed Ball State’s biggest flaw, its offensive deficiencies. In that game Ball State shot 15.8 percent in the first half. One offensive breakdown like that now and the season is over. The potential is there for Ball State. The Cardinals showed it during their four game win streak against East division squads. They showed it in an overtime loss to Akron. But Jarrod Jones has to be a presence the whole way through for success to follow.
9. Ohio (17-14, 7-9)
Star player: D.J. Cooper
X-Factor: Tommy Freeman
When Freeman gets a hot hand from three, he has propelled Ohio to victory. He had a huge game-winning three against Miami and has given the Bobcats momentum with his threes. Freeman is the MAC’s most efficient three-point shooter, so it would be wise to get him involved.
Strengths: Cooper’s playmaking, 3 pt. shooting, assist/turnover ratio
Weaknesses: Inexperience, lack of a consistent interior presence
Ohio is a team that has flashed signs of greatness and then fallen back to being average. They’ve lost a bunch of halftime leads and ultimately, close games. Eight of its 14 losses have been by five or less. The Bobcats only have one senior, KVK and their youth and depth issues have caught up at points. The loss of Steven Coleman has really depleted their depth at the 3. Two freshmen, Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic, have been asked to provide quality minutes inside. The Bobcats’ guard play is the strength, with Cooper and Armon Bassett. But two juniors, DeVaughn Washington and Freeman will play a profound part in Ohio’s outcome. If Freeman gets hot from three and Washington can continue his post-suspension play, the Bobcats could pull an upset or two.
10. Bowling Green (14-15, 6-10)
Star player: Dee Brown
X-Factor: Scott Thomas
Thomas is the Falcons’ leading scorer but his 25.4% three-point shooting is concerning. He takes way too many three attempts (130) for the amount he hits. But Thomas is more important to Bowling Green as another rebounder and in drawing contact to get himself to the line.
Strengths: Field goal percentage
Weaknesses: 3 pt. shooting and defense
Bowling Green went from MAC regular season champion in 2008-09 to 10 th seed in this year’s tournament. The Falcons won at Kent State but that was back in January. They have a manageable first round matchup but must get Dee Brown the ball and get production inside from Otis Polk, one of the conference’s most efficient shooters.
11. Northern Illinois (10-19, 6-10)
Star player: Xavier Silas
X-Factor: Mike DiNunno
After a good freshman season, DiNunno has been a disappointment in his sophomore campaign. He has gone from 11.9 PPG to 6.8 PPG this season. His shooting percentages have dropped. He has become a better point guard though, improving his assist/turnover ratio. DiNunno has been off a bunch this season but if he rekindles the magic now maybe Northern Illinois can get a game.
Strengths: Assists, blocked shots
Weaknesses: Free throw shooting, field goal percentage offense and defense
After starting out as one of the MAC’s hottest teams, Northern Illinois didn’t just go cold; it froze. The Huskies started conference season 4-0. Then, ten straight losses, in four of which they allowed 90 or more points. Xavier Silas has proven to be Ricardo Patton’s best move yet. But his scorer’s touch cannot overcome poor defense, free throw shooting and sloppy play.
12. Toledo (4-27, 1-15)
Star player: Justin Anyijong
X-Factor: Jake Barnett
Some good scoring performances have been hindered by 37.2% shooting from the field and trouble holding onto the ball. Barnett has 2.9 turnovers to 1.6 assists per game. You never know how the freshman will react in this do-or-die format.
Strengths: No pressure, 3 pt. defense
Weaknesses: Youth, execution, rebounding, turnovers
It has been a long season for Gene Cross and the Rockets. A team made up of predominantly underclassmen has showed it. They finally got off the schneid for a conference win against Ball State but the Rockets’ fundamental flaws are still present. They have only won four games all season for a reason. However, they have nothing to lose in this tournament and probably got the best matchup they could have asked for in a Buffalo team they played close in the regular season.
2010 MAC Tournament Predictions
While the conference has seen parody and bunching within the middle of its standings, I think this tournament will go rather according to form.
#9 Ohio over #8 Ball State
#5 Buffalo over #12 Toledo
#7 Western Michigan over #10 Bowling Green
#6 Eastern Michigan over #11 Northern Illinois
#1 Kent State over #9 Ohio
#2 Central Michigan over #7 Western Michigan
#3 Akron over #6 Eastern Michigan
#4 Miami over #5 Buffalo
#1 Kent State over #4 Miami
#3 Akron over #2 Central Michigan
MAC Championship Game
#1 Kent State over #3 Akron
For historical MAC Tournament winners, locations and venues check out the main MAC Basketball Tournament page here at VanDelay Sports!
By: Connor Kiesel
MAC Basketball Correspondent