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

Adam Burke

1mactourneyTwo big games are on tap in the Mid-American Conference on Wednesday night as the tournament shifts to Cleveland. Three of Wednesday’s participants were knocked out in the first round last season, while the other was the #2 seed and got a free pass into the semifinals.

Monday night proved that there are no certainties once the regular season ends. The underdogs came to play in all three games and one of them, Miami, was victorious in its upset bid. The Redhawks went on the road to Bowling Green and downed the Falcons 63-52, holding the Falcons to just 38 percent shooting. Allen Roberts, who was expected to miss the game for the Redhawks, toughed it out and scored eight points in 21 minutes of action. Three Redhawks picked up their teammate by scoring in double figures. The Falcons diminutive star Jordon Crawford was just 4-of-15 shooting for 10 points in his final college game.

Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois stayed true to their regular season output as both teams combined to score less than 100 points for the third time in three meetings. The Eagles pulled out a 45-44 win on home court to advance to Cleveland for the second round. It was an ugly offensive display as the teams combined to shoot 37 percent from the field and just 45 percent from the free throw line.

In Monday’s other first round matchup, overtime was needed at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, where the Central Michigan Chippewas gave it all they had but fell short 74-72 to the Bulls. Both CMU’s Kyle Randall and Buffalo’s Javon McCrea came to play, as the Chips’ leading scorer dropped in 31 points, while McCrea had 21 points and eight rebounds.

There were 18 lead changes and 11 ties during regulation. The Chips hit just one of the nine shots they attempted from the field in overtime. McCrea had six of his 21 points in the overtime period, helping propel the Bulls on a trip down I-90 to Cleveland.

The Bulls will open up tournament play in Cleveland with a 6:30 p.m. tip against the Ball State Cardinals. The Cardinals received a bye to the second round in Cleveland by finishing as the fifth seed. It will be a quick turnaround for the Bulls with just the one off day to travel following their overtime victory over Central Michigan. Buffalo won the lone matchup this season, a 66-63 win at Ball State.

This game will feature one of the best interior matchups of the tournament. Ball State’s Majok Majok, the country’s 18th-best rebounder, will draw the assignment of Buffalo’s Javon McCrea. McCrea got the better of Majok in the first meeting with 24 points and seven boards to Majok’s 13 points and six rebounds.

The “x-factor” in this game could be Ball State’s Juwan Scaife. Scaife had 18 points in the first meeting and has averaged 22.7 points over his last 10, including two 30+-point games. The Cardinals bring a five-game winning streak into this contest and have had the luxury of relaxing in Cleveland while the Bulls had to fight to make it into this game.

The winner of the Ball State/Buffalo game will draw Kent State in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup.

In the other second round matchup, the surprise Miami Redhawks will take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles with a 9 p.m. tip. The Redhawks picked a great time to snap their nine-game losing streak, going on the road and beating Bowling Green to advance to Cleveland. The Redhawks had won nine straight meetings against the Eagles before losing in Ypsilanti on January 19 by a 65-58 score.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings, the Redhawks check in at 233rd, while the Eagles are 309th out of 347 teams. The Redhawks are 212th in adjusted tempo, while the Eagles are 337th. Expect a slow, grind-it-out pace in Wednesday night’s game.

Neither team has fared well away from the comforts of home, as the Redhawks were just 4-13 away from Millett Hall, while the Eagles won just twice in 14 road games. It’s unlikely to be a raucous environment at Quicken Loans Arena, so the crowds certainly won’t play a factor, but expect a slight edge to the Redhawks with a lot of Miami alums in the Cleveland area.

The winner of the Miami/Eastern Michigan game will face Western Michigan in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup.

Both games can be seen on SportsTime Ohio.

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