Mid-American Conference Preview
Odds courtesy of Bovada
Akron (21-13; MAC 12-6)
The Akron Zips won 21 games last year, but it just seems like more was expected, even though the team won 2/3rds of its MAC games. The mark was the lowest the team had finished with since 2004-05, and though Akron made its 7th straight postseason appearance, that too ended with disappointment in the form of a 97-91 loss to IPFW in the College Insider tournament. The loss of Alex Abreu to legal troubles hurt the team, and likely was the determining factor in what could have been a run to the NCAA tournament.
Dambrot said “We beat some pretty good teams, but were inconsistent.”
Second-leading scorer Quincy Diggs is gone, but losing Nick Harney may help more than it hurts. Harney was suspended for “contract detrimental to the team.” The Zips will rely heavily on Demetrius Treadwell who averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds last year, both tops among returning players. Treadwell should be able to conserve his efforts more for offense with 6’11” Pat Forsythe on the roster. Treadwell shot just 45 percent from the floor last year, and with an increase in efficiency the Zips should be able to take the MAC and return to the Big Dance.
Ohio (25-12; 11-7)
The Ohio Bobcats won 25 games last year and lost 92-90 in the quarterfinals of the College Insiders tournament. Saul Phillips took over as coach, but the drop off from Jim Christian proved to be very little with a strong program and some momentum moving forward. The team lost some key players from last year’s team.
The current Bobcat roster will rely on Maurice Ndour, who is 6’9” with a 7’5” wingspan. He finished with 13.8 points per game, seven boards and 1.5 blocks per contest. The backcourt features two seniors in Stevie Taylor and Javarez Willis, both of whom averaged about seven points per game last season. The lack of depth and experience is sure to hurt this team, though.
Buffalo (19-10; 13-5)
The Buffalo Bulls failed to make any postseason tournaments but improved by five wins on the 2012-13 team. The school had back to back 20-win seasons in 2010-11 and 11-12, but last season was a big disappointment in the sense that the team really should have been in the postseason. Losing MAC player of the year Javon McCrea is a crippling blow, as he was the best in Bulls history. The losses of Jarod Oldham and Josh Freelove won’t help either.
Buffalo will look for a lot from Will Regan who averaged 10.6 points per game last season and sophomore guard Shannon Evans who posted 8.5 points per game last year and will be super exciting for Buffalo fans. Excitement may be the best thing the Bulls have to offer, because the majority of its rotation players will be youngsters.
Bowling Green (12-20; 6-12)
Bowling Green hasn’t made the Big Dance since 1968, and of course that is pretty unlikely to change coming off a season which saw the Falcons go 6-12 in conference play. Chris Jans has brought defensive culture to the team after coming from Wichita State, and the team is playing with a lot of energy. There just isn’t nearly enough talent for it to make a huge difference.
Third-team All MAC selection Richaun Holmes averaged 13.3 points per game last season and is a great athlete who should be able to continue to improve. Fifth-year senior Anthony Henderson is a good combo guard and a superb defender who fits in with Jans’ plans perfectly. Jans picked up four solid recruits in the offseason, three of which were JUCO players.
Kent State (16-16; 7-11)
Kent State made its last NCAA tournament appearance in 2008, and the Golden Flashes finished under .500 in MAC play for the first time in over a decade. The team lacked leadership and Darren Goodson failed to improve on his great junior season. Coach Rob Senderoff said the team needs to stop being so reliant on the three-point shot and get to the line more.
The team last year lacked slashers and guys who could break down defenses, and the result was a lot more tough shots for the Golden Flashes. Kris Brewer, Derek Jackson and Devareaux Manley combined for about 33.5 points per game, and all three need to continue to score even more for this team to avoid another sub-.500 conference record.