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Misc The MAC The MAC Archive MAC Tournament: First Round Matchups
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

1mactourneyThe MAC Tournament is finally upon us as 11 teams vie for a berth in March Madness. Action begins on Monday night with three first round games, hosted on the campus of the higher-seeded team. The second round games will be played on Wednesday, again, on the campus of the higher-seeded team. The focus will then shift to Cleveland, where the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals will be held Thursday-Saturday.

A picture version of the bracket can be found here, but here’s a list of the teams, their seed, and their next opponent:

#1 Akron: Bye to semifinals; will play winner of Kent State v. Ball State/Buffalo/Central Michigan on Friday

#2 Ohio: Bye to semifinals; will play winner of Western Michigan v. Bowling Green/Eastern Michigan/Northern Illinois/Miami on Friday

#3 Western Michigan: Bye to quarterfinals; will play winner of Bowling Green/Miami v. Eastern Michigan/Northern Illinois on Thursday

#4 Kent State: Bye to quarterfinals; will play winner of Ball State v. Buffalo/Central Michigan on Thursday

#5 Ball State: Bye to second round; will play winner of Buffalo/Central Michigan on Wednesday

#6 Bowling Green: will host #11 Miami of Ohio on Monday

#7 Eastern Michigan: will host #10 Northern Illinois on Monday

#8 Buffalo: will host #9 Central Michigan on Monday

#9 Central Michigan: will play at #8 Buffalo on Monday

#10 Northern Illinois: will play at #7 Eastern Michigan on Monday

#11 Miami of Ohio: will play at Bowling Green on Monday

Toledo is ineligible for postseason play.

The conference tournament picture looks a little bit cloudier based on how Akron fared against Kent State last week. They looked out of sync without starting point guard Alex Abreu and lost 68-64 to their rivals. It was Akron’s first loss at home this season. In the other Friday game, Bowling Green locked up the #6 seed with a 78-65 win over Buffalo, coupled with Eastern Michigan’s 11-point home loss to Toledo on Saturday. Ohio struggled on senior day with Miami, but pulled out a 58-54 win. Western Michigan held off Central Michigan to lock up the MAC West Division title with a 71-68 triumph. Ball State struggled, but beat Northern Illinois 54-51 to get the all-important bye to the second round.

The teams now reset their conference records to 0-0 and have a clean slate as they begin tournament play. Three games are on tap Monday night as the #6-#11 seeds try to move one step closer to Cleveland. Like the entire MAC conference, all three home teams are decidedly better when playing on their respective campuses, so they have a big advantage.

The Bowling Green Falcons went 11-4 at home this season and host the Miami of Ohio Redhawks, who are just 3-13 on the road and have lost nine straight overall. The Redhawks were dealt a serious blow when leading scorer Allen Roberts went down with a knee injury that will prevent him from playing in the tournament. The two teams split their regular season matchups, with both teams victorious at home. The Falcons won 52-44 back on February 27 at the Stroh Center, while the Redhawks won 63-60 on January 16 at Millett Hall.

Putting the ball in the basket has been a problem for Miami of late, failing to reach 60 points in each of their last four games. The Falcons are allowing just 57.1 points against at home this season. Add in the loss of Roberts and it’s a big uphill climb for the Redhawks.

The winner of this game will advance to the second round on Wednesday. Bowling Green would host either Eastern Michigan or Northern Illinois, while Miami would go on the road against either opponent.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles failed to capitalize on a chance to secure two home games in the tournament with their loss at home against Toledo and that could spell trouble for them in the second round. On Monday night, they’ll host the Northern Illinois Huskies, who have just five wins in 29 games this season. The Huskies are 2-13 away from home while the Eagles are 12-5 in Ypsilanti.

Northern Illinois has lost 10 straight since they beat Kent State back on January 30. Making matters worse for the Huskies, leading scorer Abdel Nader is doubtful to play on Monday as he continues to deal with a personal matter. Both the Huskies and Eagles are two of the worst offensive teams in basketball. However, they work hard on the defensive end of the floor, as evidenced by both teams holding opponents to less than 64 points per game.

The two previous meetings this season were not exactly thrilling. Eastern Michigan won both, as the two teams combined to score 161 points in 80 minutes of basketball.

The winner of this game will advance to the second round on Wednesday to face Bowling Green.

In Monday night’s other first round matchup, the Buffalo Bulls will host the Central Michigan Chippewas at Alumni Arena. The Bulls, despite losing four of their last five games, are playing some pretty good basketball. They lost by one point to Manhattan during BracketBusters weekend, lost by two in overtime to Kent State, beat Akron, lost by three to Ohio and then ran out of gas in the second half against Bowling Green on Saturday. The Chippewas, meanwhile, have just four wins since the first week of January.

One of the more efficient offensive teams in the conference, the Bulls have to be happy with their draw. The Chippewas are allowing 72.1 points per game this season and opponents are shooting above 48 percent from the floor. On the road, the Chips are giving up over 76 points per game and opponents are shooting better than 50 percent.

The winner of this game will travel to Muncie to take on #5 Ball State in the second round on Wednesday. 

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