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MAC Basketball Week 6 - BracketBuster Preview
The annual mid-major throwdown is set to ensue. It’s BracketBuster weekend, as the little guys get a chance to be on TV and get a quality out-of-conference win later in the season. Here’s what to look for in all 12 of Saturday’s MAC’s BracketBuster matchups.
Akron at VCU, 4 PM. ESPNU
Akron: 20-7, 10-3 MAC, Estimated RPI: 107
VCU: 18-7, 10-6 Colonial Athletic, Estimated RPI: 65
AKR: 79-70 W @ WMU
VCU: 83-67 L @ WMU
Larry Sanders, Jr. 6-11, 235: 15.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 55.6% FG
Joey Rodriguez, Jr. 5-10, 175: 12 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 2.38 AST/TO ratio
Bradford Burgess, So. 6-5, 215: 10.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG
Brett McKnight: 10.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG
Jimmy Conyers: 9.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG
Humpty Hitchens: 8.6 PPG, 1.55 AST/TO
What to Watch For
VCU is a good rebounding team, averaging 37.9 per game. The Rams have the inside/outside combo of Sanders and Rodriguez. The junior Rodriguez is a great distributor and Sanders is an accurate finisher. Although the common opponent shows a big advantage on the Akron side, there’s a difference between an out-of-conference game and conference opponent with whom you are more familiar. VCU is 13-1 at home and will do enough to take away Akron’s scoring options.
Prediction: VCU 74, Akron 68
Western Carolina at Kent State, 8 PM, ESPNU
Kent State: 19-8, 10-3 MAC, Estimated RPI: 58
Western Carolina: 19-9, 9-7 Southern, Estimated RPI: 125
WCU: 72- 67 W vs. WOF
KSU: 72-66 W at Cable Car Classic
Brandon Giles, Sr. 6-6, 210: 12.4 PPG
Jake Robinson, Sr. 6-8, 205: 12.2 PPG, 41.7 3 pt FG %
Justin Greene: 13.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 52.2 % FG
Chris Singletary: 11.8 PPG, 5 RPG, 4.2 APG
What to Watch For
Western Carolina head coach Larry Hunter knows a thing or two about the MAC. He coached at Ohio for 12 years. However, his Catamounts and the Golden Flashes are on different trajectories. Kent State has won nine of ten. Western Carolina has lost four of five. Western’s points against average is 69.3, however, it has given up 70+ in all of its recent losses. Kent State is not a high scoring team but getting into a bit of a shootout would not hurt.
Prediction: Akron 79, Western Carolina 69
Filling out the Field
Buffalo (15-9) at St. Peter’s (15-11), 2 PM
It’s a matchup of pretty polar opposites. Buffalo does not play good defense. St. Peter’s is not very good offensively. The Peacocks are in the 300s in field goal percentage. However, they are the fifth best field goal percentage defense in the nation, holding opponents to 37.2% per game. Buffalo, on the other hand, allows an average of 44.2% shooting. So, this will come down to who can determine the pace. If St. Peter’s can turn it into a sluggish, defensive game, it wins. If it becomes a track meet, Buffalo wins.
Prediction: St. Peter’s 69, Buffalo 65
Valparaiso (15-14) at Bowling Green (13-12), 2 PM
Valpo’s Brandon Wood will be tough to stop, averaging 18.2 PPG. But the Crusaders have on their resume two double-digits road losses to MAC teams ( Ball State and Akron). It’s another road game against the MAC for Valpo. Bowling Green’s superior defense will be key.
Prediction: Bowling Green 65, Valpo 58
Tennessee-Martin (4-22) at Ball State (14-11), 2 PM
Outside of a blowout loss at Kent State, Ball State is playing good basketball over the past month. The same cannot be said of the Skyhawks, who are 1-15 in OVC play. Their only conference win is against 7-20 SE Missouri State. Tennessee-Martin’s scoring margin is more than -11. It is 329 th in field goal percentage and 310 th in field goal percentage defense. That should make Jarrod Jones happy.
Prediction: Ball State 75, Tennessee-Martin 62
Southeast Missouri State (7-20) at Miami (11-15), 2:30 PM
It’ll be a Redhawk duel in Oxford. However, the Redhawks of the OVC are not looking as strong. Their estimated RPI is 304. Miami’s is 153. Both teams are 2-11 on the road and it will be the Redhawks from the state of Missouri who are making the trip. Just Anthony Allison averages double digit points (10.2 per game) for SE Missouri State. Kenny Hayes is Miami’s only double-digit scorer with 14.5 per game. Miami should hold the other Redhawks in check at home and rebound from a two-game skid.
Prediction: Miami 71, Southeast Missouri State 59
Western Michigan (14-12) at Southern Illinois (14-12), 3:05 PM
The Salukis may be 9 th in the MVC standings but that is a strong mid-major conference led by top 25 Northern Iowa and two quality squads from Wichita State and Illinois State. Western Michigan’s David Kool will be the best scorer on the floor. However, Southern Illinois is the better overall offensive team. This one will be close throughout with the home court providing the extra edge.
Prediction: Southern Illinois 69, Western Michigan 67
Eastern Michigan (14-12) at Detroit (15-13), 3:35 PM
Detroit returns home looking to break a three-game losing streak. The Titans have beaten three MAC teams (Central, Western, Bowling Green). Eastern has not played too many quality out-of-conference opponents and Detroit is just that, coming out of the tough Horizon. Chase Simon, Xavier Keeling and Thomas Kennedy all score in double-digits to stymie a strong performance by Carlos Medlock.
Prediction: Detroit 77, Eastern Michigan 65
Wright State (18-9) at Ohio (14-13), 4 PM
Again, it’s a Horizon-MAC matchup. I think the Horizon is the better conference and Wright State is second in it, while Ohio is in the bottom portion of the MAC. The Bobcats have their moments but they have been giving up multiple double-doubles nearly every game of late. Look for Corey Cooperwood to get one for the Raiders and the Bobcats to have trouble defending Todd Brown. D.J. Cooper gets another double-double but another close loss goes against Ohio.
Prediction: Wright State 71, Ohio 68
Toledo (3-24) at Cleveland State (13-15), 6 PM
This is a mismatch. Cleveland State is two games under .500 overall but two games over in the Horizon. 9-7 in that conference is pretty solid. Toledo is 0-13 in the MAC and has not won in months. This will should be relatively easy at home for the Vikings.
Prediction: Cleveland State 70, Toledo 54
Tennessee State (8-20) at Central Michigan (12-13), 6:30 PM
One of the conferences that the MAC looks to have the advantage over on this BracketBuster Saturday is the OVC. Tennessee State has a lower RPI and worse scoring margin. Central Michigan can hit the threes and the Tigers do not defend it well. Bitzer and Harman will hit big numbers.
Prediction: Central Michigan 81, Tennessee State 72
Northern Illinois (8-17) at Eastern Illinois (15-11), 7 PM
The skidding Huskies are now up to nine straight losses. They’ll have to end Eastern Illinois’ four-game win streak to stop their bleeding. Eastern Illinois can shoot the rock, making 45.1% of its field goals, 93 rd in the country. The Panthers are also 70 th in field goal percentage defense. Northern Illinois’ is 289th in the defensive category and 209th shooting wise. Tyler Laser, James Granger and the Panthers get the home W for the OVC.
Prediction: Eastern Illinois 78, Northern Illinois 64
By Connor Kiesel