Dates: March 8, 10-12
Location: Cleveland, OH
Championship Game: March 12th, 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Outlook: You want to try to predict the MAC tournament champion? Here’s my advice -- pick up a pair of dice and start rolling.
The MAC is an example of mid-major parity at its finest. Kent State won the league’s regular season title, going 12-4 in the east, where the league’s power resides. After that, all five eastern division teams were within three games of second place. Throw in the top two teams in the western division, and the MAC had seven teams within three games of second place.
Yeah, that’s a mess.
No. 1 Kent State is the favorite to win the league. They’ve now won back-to-back regular season titles and have the conference player of the year, Justin Greene, manning the paint. No. 2 Western Michigan was the west division champ, which normally doesn’t carry much water, but they also led the league in efficiency margin and have won seven of eight. No. 3 Miami OH doesn’t play much defense, but they fire away from three. When the threes drop, the Redhawks win. No. 5 Ohio has DJ Cooper, the talented point guard (16.4 ppg, 7.4 apg) that Georgetown fans no doubt remember well. No. 6 Akron is much better playing at home, and Quicken Loans Arena is basically a home game. (Right, LeBron?) No. 8 Buffalo has enough size inside to cause problems.
There is good news coming out of this mess.
The MAC Tournament should be wild.
Player to Watch: DJ Cooper, Ohio
There are a number of players that can fill the stat sheet in this conference (Xavier Silas, Brandon Bowdry, Trey Ziegler), but Cooper is the only one on a team with a chance to make a run at the title. The diminutive lefty point guard is a fantasy god, averaging 16.5 ppg, 7.4 apg, 5.1 rpg, and 2.3 spg, while leading the Bobcats to wins in seven of their last nine games.
Champion: Akron Zips
I’m going out on a bit of a limb here as the Zips are the six seed, but Akron is the St. John’s of the MAC. On paper, they look like one of the best teams -- they are balanced, they are experienced, and they have some size. But the Zips are 7-1 at home and 2-6 on the road, with the two wins coming against Bowling Green and Toledo. The tournament is played in Cleveland, however. Can I get an upset?