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Adam Burke

0akronohioThe Akron Zips and Ohio Bobcats certainly didn’t disappoint on the big stage on Wednesday night with a thrilling, back-and-forth game that ended in Akron extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 19 with an 88-81 overtime victory. With just three conference games left on the regular season schedule, the Zips are in a great position to claim the outright MAC East Division title and secure the top seed for the MAC Tournament.

Saturday’s schedule does not include a marquee matchup like Wednesday night’s games, with a focus on seeding for the teams in the middle of the pack. All 12 MAC teams will be in action on Saturday and then have a quicker turnaround than usual, with all 12 teams again taking the court on Tuesday, as opposed to Wednesday. The race is on to secure the fifth seed, because the fifth seed will not have to play the early rounds of the tournament because Toledo is ineligible. The bottom six teams will all have to play to gain a berth in Cleveland.

On Wednesday, as mentioned above, Akron erased an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat Ohio 88-81 in overtime in Athens. Western Michigan put themselves in the driver’s seat with a 65-62 win at Toledo to take a one-game lead in the MAC West Division standings and can lock up the MAC West Division outright championship with a win at Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Kent State erased a nine-point halftime deficit at home to down the Buffalo Bulls 83-81 in overtime. Ball State and Central Michigan must have been playing 3-on-3 because they combined for 185 points in the Cardinals’ 95-90 win. Bowling Green held Miami to just 13 second half points in a 52-44 victory. Eastern Michigan snagged a road win, downing Northern Illinois 53-41.


Jonathan Knight

Akron OU BasketballA year after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and a year before man landed on the moon, we witnessed another moment in our history that, when you come right down to it, was probably just as culturally significant.

Its origin and contents are like the lyrics to your alma mater: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

Launched in Pittsburgh (bizarrely), originally called the “Aristocrat,” we know it by its iconic two-syllable moniker: the Big Mac.

Before long, the Madison Avenue oracles that are absurdly good at such things suggested that this 540-calorie experience was the only thing that could curb the effects of a phenomenon classified by doctors as a “Big Mac Attack.”

Flash forward four-and-a-half decades to this Wednesday night, when we will be treated to a similar experience with an altogether different kind of Big Mac attack. One that requires all capital letters in the middle.

As we creep into the final two weeks of what has been a long college basketball season, we’re about to witness one of the game’s finest and most alluring aspects: a solid conference’s two finest teams going head-to-head with the regular-season league title - and all the conference tourney advantages that go with it - at stake.

With most conferences splitting into superfluous divisions, games with this level of significance are a bit harder to find than they were 15 or 20 years ago. And yet on Wednesday night - 7:00 tip-off on SportsTime Ohio, no less - we’ll get a Super-Sized helping.

The Ohio Bobcats and the Akron Zips, unquestionably the best teams in the MAC this year, will square off in Athens with more at stake than you might think, particularly since it’s still February.


Adam Burke

0akronohioBasketball coaches around the country have taken note of the special season that the Akron Zips are having. They’ll get a chance to validate their top-25 ranking when they head to Athens to take on the Ohio Bobcats on Wednesday night. The 24th-ranked Zips take an 18-game winning streak into this clash of the MAC’s two top teams and it’s likely the last game that stands between the Zips and a #1 seed for the MAC Tournament.

Last weekend, the MAC participated in BracketBusters, an annual weekend where schools from mid-major conferences take on a non-conference opponent of similar strength. Overall, the 12 MAC teams went 5-7 on the weekend. On Friday night, Akron easily took care of North Dakota State with a 68-53 win. The MAC’s other top team, Ohio, fell to Belmont 81-62 in a game they were never really competitive in, trailing by 17 at half. The other teams in the MAC East Division went just 1-3, as Kent State defeated Loyola-Chicago 70-63, Bowling Green lost to IPFW 88-75, Miami of Ohio lost in overtime to Southern Illinois, and Buffalo turned the ball over 24 times in a 65-64 loss to Manhattan.


Adam Burke

0akronohioSaturday’s lengthy slate of MAC games forced this week’s previews to be separated into two parts. You can find Part One here, which talks about tonight’s Akron/North Dakota State game and the first half of the Saturday schedule. The BracketBusters matchups give teams an opportunity to get a win that looks good for a postseason selection committee, whether that’s the March Madness committee or the committees for the National Invitation Tournament, the Tournament, or the College Basketball Invitational. Though those tournaments have varying degrees of notoriety, it’s always nice to keep playing deep into March.

Picking up where we left off with Thursday’s Part One, the Kent State Golden Flashes travel to Chicago to take on the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers from the Horizon League on Saturday at 3 p.m. Last season, Kent hosted the College of Charleston, so this appears to be a good indication of how the Flashes’ season has gone thus far. The Ramblers are 14-13, having taken advantage of a weak non-conference schedule, as they are just 4-10 in Horizon League play.

Kent State has played better of late, scoring 402 points over their last five games. The Flashes took Ohio to overtime last Saturday, but lost in the extra period. The Ramblers come into this game as losers of five out of six. The Ramblers’ struggles coincide with a concussion suffered by leading scorer and rebounder Ben Averkamp earlier this month. Both teams have similar offensive percentages, but the Flashes are averaging eight points more per game than the Ramblers, so if they dictate the pace, they should come away with the victory.


Adam Burke

0akronohioIt’s BracketBusters week, so the teams in the Mid-American Conference will get to break the monotonous cycle of conference play and take on non-conference opponents from across the country. With 13 BracketBuster matchups on tap, this week’s look at the MAC slate will be broken up into two parts.Some of these games are really interesting matchups, especially with the three top teams in the conference, Akron, Ohio, and Western Michigan.

First, a look back at last weekend. Akron extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 games with a 17-point win over Bowling Green by a 67-50 score. Ohio and Kent State set a good tone with their 11 a.m. tip, with the game going to overtime in Athens. Ohio prevailed 78-75 and kept pace with Akron in the MAC East Division, trailing by just a game, with their big matchup set for next Wednesday. Western Michigan struggled early, allowing 37 points to Northern Illinois in the first half, before buckling down defensively and winning by eight. Toledo got back in the win column with a 73-64 win over Central Michigan. Buffalo is clicking at the right time, winning their third straight, with a 79-71 triumph of Miami of Ohio. Eastern Michigan finally snagged that first road win, beating Ball State 56-50.


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