The MAC is a fun, competitive league with a lot of good teams and little margin for error. With the stakes raised in the tournament, we can expect the action and intensity to ramp up when the conference's top teams square off at Quicken Loans Arena this week.
Akron earned the top seed with a 13-5 conference record, while Ohio is not far behind at 11-7. The Zips are generally considered the favorites, being the only MAC team ranked in KenPom's top 100. Buffalo won the tournament last year and should be in the mix once again as the No. 3 seed. Even mid-level teams like Central Michigan, Kent State and Northern Illinois can beat anyone in this conference on a good day.
If there's a potential Cinderella team to watch for, it would be ninth-seeded Toledo. The Rockets scuffled to a 17-14 regular season record, but they're the second-best MAC team by KenPom efficiency (124) and beat Akron by double digits at home this season. They also boast the conference's top scorer in Nathan Boothe, who averaged 19.4 points per game.However, Toledo's tournament run was short-lived, having been eliminated in the first round by Eastern Michigan.
All 12 teams are eligible to participate this year. The MAC follows the standard 12-team tournament format, with the four highest seeds getting byes into the quarterfinals. With a three-day gap between the first round and quarters, that also means those teams will have nearly a full week to rest up.
The first round will take place at the higher-seeded team's campus sites, while the later rounds are set at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
4. Central Michigan
5. Kent State
6. Ball State
7. Northern Illinois
8. Eastern Michigan
10. Western Michigan
11. Miami (Ohio)
12. Bowling Green
The full bracket can be found here.
Schedule and results (all times Eastern)
Monday, March 7 (first round)
Game 1: No. 7 Northern Illinois vs. No. 10 Western Michigan (8 p.m., TBD)
Game 2: No. 11 Miami (Ohio) 49, No. 6 Ball State 47
Game 3: No. 8 Eastern Michigan 69, No. 9 Toledo 60
Game 4: No. 12 Bowling Green 70, No. 5 Kent State 69
Thursday, March 10 (quarterfinals)
Game 5: No. 1 Akron 65 vs. No. 8 Eastern Michigan 63
Game 6: No. 12 Bowling Green 62, No. 4 Central Michigan 59
Game 7: No. 2 Ohio 79 vs. No. 7 Northern Illinois 62
Game 8: No. 3 Buffalo 94, No 11 Miami 81
Friday, March 11 (semifinals)
Game 9: No. 1 Akron 80, No. 12 Bowling Green 66
Game 10: No.3 Buffalo 88, No. 2 Ohio 74
Saturday, March 12 (championship)
Game 11: No. 1 Akron vs. No. 3 Buffalo (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)
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Greatest Cinderella: Was it the NC State Wolfpack or Butler Bulldogs?
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