Mid-American Conference play is underway, so it is time to take a look at the teams to see what they have done right, what has gone wrong and what to expect the rest of the season. Here is a team-by-team look at the teams in both divisions.MAC East Division
Akron Zips (10-5, 1-0)
Key win: 65-62 home victory over Kent State (1/8/11)
Oops: 64-51 home loss to Cleveland State (11/24/10)
The Good: The Zips lead the Mid-American Conference in turnover margin at +4.2.
The Bad: Akron is last in the conference in rebounding margin at -4.4.
The Ugly: Despite its hot start, Akron sits just seventh in the MAC in attendance averaging a paltry 3,535 fans per game. The JAR, when full, is one of the best places in the conference to watch a game. It has an old-school atmosphere you just can’t replicate. Where are all the Zips fans?
Summary: Akron is getting hot at the right time. It has won six of its last seven games, and the emergence of center Zeke Marshall has helped the Zips cause a great deal. Since losing to Miami, Akron has reeled off three in a row and Marshall has had a hand in all three wins. He dominated the MAC opener against Kent, scoring 20 points, pulling down 13 rebounds and blocking three shots.
Bowling Green Falcons (6-10, 1-1)
Key win: 67-61 win at St. Louis (1/1/11)
Oops: 56-55 loss to Albany in Detroit (11/24/10)
The Good: Bowling Green leads the MAC in steals, averaging 10.13 per game as a team.
The Bad: The Falcons are dead last in the conference in 3-point shooting, connecting at just a 26.6 percent clip.
The Ugly: Bowling Green struggles to get to the line and fail to take advantage when it does get there. The Falcons shoot just 19.2 free throws a game and shoot a conference-low 60.8 percent from the line.
Summary: The Falcons suffered through a seven-game losing streak earlier this season before seemingly righting the ship. Bowling Green has three guards that average over 10 points per game, Dee Brown (10.8), Scott Thomas (10.3) and A’uston Calhoun (10.3), but have struggled scoring points in the paint. The Falcons also will have to turn things around on the road, having won just two of eight games away from Anderson Arena.
Miami RedHawks (6-9, 1-0)
Key win: 75-64 home victory over Xavier (12/1/10)
Oops: 83-72 loss to Belmont in Nashville (12/30/10)
The Good: Miami is tied for the MAC lead in free throw percentage, shooting 72.6 percent from the charity stripe.
The Bad: The RedHawks are 11th in the MAC in rebound margin at -4.1.
The Ugly: Miami does not get many second shots. Its 8.73 offensive rebounds per game is last in the conference.
Summary: No one was happier to see conference play begin than Miami. Heading into its conference opener against Ohio the RedHawks had lost four straight games. A tough triple-overtime win over the Bobcats was Miami’s first road win of the season. One thing Miami has to do is work on its offensive sets. Power forward Julian Mavunga leads the team in assists with just 2.3 per game.
Buffalo Bulls (8-5, 0-1)
Key win: 78-64 home victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay (12/11/10)
Oops: 64-53 road loss at Youngstown State (11/16/10)
The Good: The Bulls can put points on the board. They are second in the conference in scoring (74.1 ppg), first in the MAC in scoring differential (+9.2) and leads the conference in 3-point percentage (36.7 percent).
The Bad: Buffalo has hit just 184 of 282 free throws, good for just 65.2 percent.
The Ugly: The Bulls have trouble stopping their opponents from beyond the arc. Their opposition has connected on 37.3 percent of its 3-pointers, placing the Bulls 11th in the conference in 3-point defense.
Summary: Buffalo has balance on offense. Though the Bulls have just two players averaging in double-figures in scoring (Zach Filzen at 15.7 and Byron Mulkey at 14.2), they have had six different players lead the team in scoring in 13 games this season. Buffalo has jumped on teams early, out-scoring its opponents 465-379 combined in the first half.
Kent State Golden Flashes (10-6, 1-1)
Key win: 56-51 home victory over South Florida (12/12/10)
Oops: 60-51 home loss to James Madison (12/31/10)
The Good: The Golden Flashes allow just 64.8 points per game, second in the MAC.
The Bad: Kent has struggled from the free throw line at times, shooting just 67.6 percent as a team.
The Ugly: The Golden Flashes are 1-3 since second-leading scorer Carlton Guyton was suspended indefinitely from the team for allegedly stealing a woman’s car.
Summary: Kent was sailing along, leading the MAC East at 9-3 overall, then Carlton Guyton was suspended and the Golden Flashes have not been the same since. Suffered a heartbreaking two-point loss to rival Akron in their conference opener before hammering Bowling Green at the MAC Center. Kent has yet to taste victory on the road, losing all five games away from the MAC Center.
Ohio Bobcats (7-8, 0-1)
Key win: 78-75 home victory over Valparaiso (11/23/10)
Oops: 78-66 home loss to Oakland (11/15/10)
The Good: The Bobcats lead the MAC in scoring, averaging 75.3 points per game.
The Bad: Ohio also gives up a ton of points. It sits 11th in the conference in points allowed, giving up 75.4 points per game.
The Ugly: Ohio is 0-3 in overtime contests this season, dropping a four OT game to St. Bonaventure, a three OT game to Miami and a single OT contest to Robert Morris. Two of Ohio’s three OT losses have come in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center.
Summary: Sophomore point guard D.J. Cooper has put himself into position to get quite a bit of attention for MAC Player of the Year honors, but he needs help. Cooper averages 19.2 points per game and leads the conference in assists with 7.7 per contest. He exploded for 43 points and 13 assists earlier this season in a loss to St. Bonaventure and has scored 25 points or more five times. Cooper has played heavy minutes this season, averaging over 36 per contest. Either Tommy Freeman (11.0 points per game) or DeVaughan Washington (10.7 points per game) will have to pick up their scoring production or the Bobcats will have trouble winning games down the stretch. Ivo Baltic has shown some flashes this season, but has to work on his consistency as well as keeping his fouls to a minimum. Ohio is a better team than its record indicates, but has a tough first couple of weeks of conference play. It is make or break time for the Bobcats.
MAC West Division
Ball State Cardinals (9-4, 1-0)
Key win: 79-77 road victory over DePaul (12/11/10)
Oops: 62-44 road loss at Alaska-Anchorage (11/27/10)
The Good: Ball State leads the MAC in defense, allowing just 62.5 points per game.
The Bad: The Cardinals have hit just 52 of 171 3-pointers, good for 30.4 percent (10th in the conference).
The Ugly: Ball State has virtually no defensive presence in the paint. The Cardinals are 11th in the conference, blocking just 1.69 shots per game.
Summary: Jarrod Jones is the most overlooked player in the conference thus far, but he has the Cardinals on the right track as they head into MAC play. Ball State has won six of its last seven games, and Jones has led the Cardinals in scoring in each one of those contests. He averages 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds this season, despite playing just 28.5 minutes per game. Jones has posted seven double-doubles this season as well.
Western Michigan Broncos (8-6, 1-0)
Key win: 78-57 road win at Utah State (12/22/10)
Oops: 82-64 home loss to Loyola-Chicago (11/20/10)
The Good: The Broncos’ high-octane offense scores 71.5 points per game, third in the conference.
The Bad: Western Michigan struggles from beyond the arc, shooting just 31.4 percent from 3-point range.
The Ugly: WMU stumbled out of the gate this season, losing four of its first five games. The Broncos average just 2,695 fans at their home games.
Summary: After losing four of their first five games, the Broncos have won seven of nine. WMU has a very balanced attack, with six players averaging 8.5 points or more per game. The Broncos rebound as a group as well, with five players pulling down at least 4.3 rebounds per contest. Demetrius Ward (12.4) and Flenard Whitfield (12.2) pace the balanced scoring attack, and one of the other – usually both – get their points every night.
Eastern Michigan Eagles (4-11, 1-1)
Key win: 71-48 road win at Toledo (1/8/11)
Oops: 55-51 road loss at Samford (12/31/10)
The Good: Eastern Michigan has rebounded the ball well this season, leading the MAC in rebounding margin at +4.1.
The Bad: The Eagles are the second-worst team in the conference from the field, shooting just 39.2 percent.
The Ugly: EMU is an ugly -2.36 in turnover margin this season and averages 15.3 turnovers per contest.
Summary: The Eagles opened their season with a swoon, losing nine of their first 10 contests. Things have not gotten much better, and EMU sits at 4-10. Eastern Michigan has especially struggled when it has travelled away from Ypsilanti, winning two and losing eight on the road or at neutral sites. Brandon Bowdry has been a one-man gang for the Eagles, leading the team in scoring in 12 out of 14 games and in rebounding in 13 of 14. Bowdry is the only player in the conference to average a double-double, scoring 20.9 points and grabbing 10.2 rebounds per contest.
Northern Illinois Huskies (5-9, 1-1)
Key win: 80-78 home victory over Illinois-Chicago (12/14/10)
Oops: 61-49 road loss at Southern Illinois (12/22/10)
The Good: Senior shooting guard Xavier Silas leads the MAC in scoring at 23.3 points per game.
The Bad: The Huskies are dead last in the conference in team defense, allowing 77.6 points per game.
The Ugly: UNI allows its opponents to shoot 46.3 percent from the field, last in the conference.
Summary: Xavier Silas is proving to be worthy of the pre-season hype, but the rest of the team has struggled. Silas leads the conference in scoring at 23.9 points per game, but he is the only Huskie to average double figures in scoring. With one legitimate scoring threat, NIU will struggle to win conference games if it continues to give up almost 80 points per game.
Central Michigan Chippewas (3-11, 0-1)
Key win: 70-67 win over Cal State Fullerton (11/13/10)
Oops: 72-69 home loss to South Dakota State (12/20/10)
The Good: The Chips are third in the MAC in blocked shots, averaging 3.79 per contest.
The Bad: CMU is last in the conference in field goal percentage, shooting just 37.8 percent from the floor.
The Ugly: Central Michigan is last in the MAC in defensive rebounding, pulling down just 21.21 per contest.
Summary: Central Michigan pulled off one of the top MAC recruiting coups in recent memory when blue chip prospect Trey Zeigler chose the Chippewas over a number of traditional NCAA powerhouses. Zeigler has been as good as advertised, but the rest of the team has struggled this season. Zeigler and backcourt running mate Jalin Thomas have been the majority of CMU’s offense this season, scoring 15.8 and 14.9 points per game respectively, but the third-leading scorer on the team, Amir Rashid, averages just 5.9 points per game. CMU will be a very good team soon, but not this year.
Toledo Rockets (3-12, 0-1)
Key win: 75-72 home win over Valparaiso (12/11/10)
Oops: 78-65 road loss at IPFW (12/8/10)
The Good: After losing nine straight games to open the season, Toledo went on a three-game winning streak.
The Bad: The Rockets sit last in the conference in points per game at 57.5.
The Ugly: Toledo is last in the conference in scoring margin (-12.8), blocks per game (.93), steals per game (4.47) and turnover margin (-5.4).
Summary: The Rockets have had an awful season, and things don’t look to be getting much better. Toledo scores just 57.5 points per game and gives up 70.3. They shoot just 41 percent from the field while allowing their opponents to shoot 44.6 percent. They don’t shoot the ball well or take care of it, either. Most Toledo games have been over by halftime, as UT has been out-scored 553-387 in the first half this season.
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