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MAC Basketball Weeknight Preview
Ohio (8-9, 1-2 MAC) at Bowling Green (7-10, 2-1 MAC)
Last time out: The Bobcats lost their third straight home game by four points or less. Asown Sayles missed two free throws with Ohio leading 66-65 and 1:23 left, as the Bobcats never scored again in a 69-66 loss to Kent State. Bowling Green got its second conference win Sunday in a 62-53 victory. The Falcons took advantage of 20 Miami turnovers.
Keys to the game: Ohio leads the league in scoring offense but is second to last in scoring defense. The Bobcats struggled with free throws in the Kent State loss, hitting just 11 of 21 from the line. Bowling Green has the most steals in the conference and a strong assist to turnover ratio. The Falcons will have to stop Tommy Freeman and a proficient three-point shooting squad, while finding a way to bank some themselves. They are making just 27% of threes for the season.
Prediction: Ohio 71, Bowling Green 67
Kent State (11-6, 2-1 MAC) at Buffalo (9-6, 1-2 MAC)
Last time out: Kent State outrebounded the Bobcats to a road victory. Justin Greene scored 18 points and had 8 rebounds, as the Flashes used a 6-0 run in the final minute and a half to eclipse the ‘Cats. Buffalo got its first MAC win with Dave Barnett swishing the game-winning three with 1:22 to go.
Keys to the game: The biggest is Kent’s Greene. He won the MAC Player of the Week award last week after averaging 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Greene sits in the top five of the MAC in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, so the Bulls will have a lot to contest. Junior Michael Watt will have to do what he can to stymie Greene. Zach Filzen leads the Bulls in scoring, averaging 14.5 PPG, but has scored just 11 total in the past two. He has made just eight of his past 31 field goal attempts. He will have to regain his shooting stroke. It will be interesting to see if Buffalo’s #1 field goal percentage or Kent’s #2 field goal percent defense will win out.
Prediction: Kent State 74, Buffalo 66
Akron (10-7, 1-2 MAC) at Miami (7-10, 2-1 MAC)
Last time out: Miami fell from the ranks of the conference unbeaten in a sloppy road loss to Bowling Green. Julian Mavunga was the main offender, committing five of the Redhawks’ 20 turnovers. Akron lost its second straight, unable to take advantage of opportunities to even the score late in the game. Alex Abreu could only make one free throw then he and Brett McClanahan both missed threes in the waning seconds.
Keys to the game: On paper, these two teams are evenly matched. They both have had a lot of trouble rebounding, and are similar in most offensive and defensive categories. Miami was really hindered by turnovers in the Bowling Green loss and that could again be the difference here. Akron is tops in the league in turnover ratio, while Miami is ahead of just Toledo. If Miami struggles to hold onto the ball again, Akron will win handily.
Prediction: Akron 66, Miami 63
Ball State (11-4, 3-0 MAC) at Eastern Michigan (4-12, 1-2 MAC)
Last time out: Ball State won its fifth in a row, scoring 30 of its 64 points on 42 free throw shots, beating Central Michigan. Eastern Michigan went ice cold from the field in the early stages of the second half, falling victim to a 15-2 Western Michigan run and 65-48 defeat.
Keys to the game: It’s a battle of arguably the conference’s two best big men, Ball State’s Jarrod Jones and Eastern’s Brandon Bowdry. Once again, Bowdry is producing monster statistics, averaging 20 and 10 a night. Jones isn’t far behind with over 16 and 8 on average. While Eastern is one of the MAC’s worst shooting teams, Ball State sports the best field percentage defense and they’re also second best in field goal offense.
Prediction: Ball State 72, Eastern Michigan 61
Western Michigan (9-7, 2-1 MAC) at Toledo (3-14, 0-3 MAC)
Last time out: Toledo continued its troubles losing its third MAC game of the season by double digits, despite Malcolm Griffin’s 31 points. Western Michigan shot just 35% from the field but 81% free throw shooting helped them to the victory over Eastern Michigan.
Keys to the game: The young Rockets have the worst turnover margin in the league. Western is one of the best rebounding squads, while Toledo ranks near the bottom. It will take a big game not only from Malcolm Griffin but other contributions for the Rockets to get their first MAC win.
Prediction: Western Michigan 68, Toledo 53
Northern Illinois (6-9, 2-1 MAC) at Central Michigan (4-12, 1-2 MAC)
Last time out: Xavier Silas put up 20, as Northern Illinois delivered Toledo another loss, 64-54. Central Michigan only went to the line 10 times against Ball State but made just three of those, losing despite another strong performance from freshman Trey Zeigler.
Keys to the game: Central Michigan is not doing well on either side of the ball, in the cellar offensively and in front of just the Huskies in field goal defense. Zeigler and Jalin Thomas are the only legitimate offensive threats on the Chippewas. For NIU, it’s Xavier Silas putting up the bulk of the scoring. If one of those guys is having an off night, it may mean doom for their side.
Prediction: Central Michigan 65, NIU 6
By Connor Kiesel