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Misc The MAC The MAC Archive Saturday's MAC Matchups
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

0akronohioThe tip times in Saturday’s MAC basketball action are spread throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and the nightcap tips at 7:30 p.m., so it’s a full day of hoops in the conference. Just five conference games remain for everybody but Ohio and Eastern Michigan, who have a postponed game to make up. After this weekend, the MAC’s 12 teams will take a break from the conference schedule to play a non-conference game as part of BracketBusters week.

There was only one truly surprising final on Wednesday night out of the six MAC games. Bowling Green knocked off Western Michigan, who has now dropped two straight following a seven-game winning streak, by a 70-60 score. Akron pushed the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 with an eight-point road victory over Eastern Michigan. Ohio scored 82 points in a rout over Central Michigan, 82-63. Kent State kept their offense in gear, beating Miami of Ohio by an 87-70 score. Buffalo provided some help to Western Michigan, downing Toledo 75-60, to keep both teams locked in a tie atop the MAC West Division. Ball State and Northern Illinois managed 108 combined points in Ball State’s 56-52 victory.

The highlight matchup on Saturday’s MAC slate is the one that kicks off the day, as Ohio hosts Kent State. Over their last five games, these two teams are combining for 150 points, so they could light up the scoreboard on Saturday. Ohio is perfect in the MAC except for their slip up in Akron, while Kent is trying to accumulate conference wins to get a home court game for the first rounds of the MAC Tournament.

Both teams are playing well on both ends of the floor, with Kent winning their last two by an average of 16 and Ohio winning their last three by an average of 18.3 points per game. These two teams met last month in Kent and Ohio escaped with a 69-68 victory. These schools seem to bring out the best in each other, with a lot of close matchups over the last 10 meetings, so expect a quality game from both squads. Ohio has played four of their last five on the road, so they will be happy to play in front of the Bobcat faithful.

Fresh off their upset of Western Michigan, the Bowling Green Falcons take the turnpike to Route 8 for a clash at the JAR with the Akron Zips. The Falcons have just one road win in 10 tries, so it seems unlikely that they will carry the momentum of Wednesday’s 10-point win into the Rubber City and pull off another upset. The Zips are 12-0 defending their home court this season.

The Zips have won nine of the last 10 matchups between the two schools and are working on an eight-game winning streak over the Falcons. Bowling Green has not scored more than 68 points in any of those games. These two teams met at the Stroh Center on January 30 and the Zips came away with a 13-point road victory, holding the Falcons to just 33 percent shooting.

Western Michigan will have a great opportunity to bounce back from back-to-back defeats by welcoming Northern Illinois to town. The Broncos fell into a tie atop the MAC West with Toledo following last Saturday’s loss to Ball State and may be looking to take out some frustration on a lesser foe. The Huskies shot just 20 percent, 11-for-55, when these teams met in DeKalb last month in a 71-34 loss. If the Broncos are motivated, this one could be even uglier.

After a surprising win over Kent State on January 30, the Huskies have lost four straight and haven’t cracked 55 points in three of those four. The Broncos have won seven in a row between these two schools, so everything points to a blowout win for them on Saturday.

Toledo will try to keep pace with Western Michigan when they travel to Mount Pleasant to take on Central Michigan. Toledo attempted 68 shots last game against Buffalo, but made only 32 percent of those attempts and gave up 75 points. Central Michigan hast lost seven in a row and most of them have been blowouts. Neither team enters this game playing particularly good basketball, so it could be a choppy and sloppy affair at McGuirk Arena.

The last three matchups in the series have all been Toledo wins by six or less, so the game could come down to the last few possessions. Toledo won at home 76-72 in overtime last month in a game that was close throughout.

The Buffalo Bulls head to Oxford for a mid-day clash with the Miami Redhawks. The Bulls go back onto the road, where they’ve lost three straight, and eight of 11 this season. The Redhawks have lost seven of eight and didn’t come back well from their tough loss to Akron when Kent State blew them out on Wednesday. The Redhawks have a winnable game here, so we’ll see if their effort level is higher.

The Redhawks snuck out of Buffalo with a one-point win last month in a 58-57 defensive struggle. The Bulls can get back to 6-6 in conference play with a win, which is important because they may be able to get a first round home game in the MAC Tournament if they hover around that .500 mark the rest of the way.

Eastern Michigan has a chance at that first road win when they take on Ball State on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles are 0-for-10 on the road this year and they take on a Ball State team that is just 1-4 at home in MAC play. The Eagles continue to play pesky defense and hang around in a lot of games, eventually falling short because of their offensive struggles. They hung around with Akron last game, but only shot 37 percent from the field, scoring 52 points.

The Cardinals have won two straight, including an impressive win over Western Michigan. They committed to playing defense and it paid off for them, so this could be a very low scoring affair and a game that may come down to the final possession. The two teams have split the last six meetings, so expect a close game in Muncie on Saturday.

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