Just one week ago, the Mid-American Conference looked oh so different. The Ohio Bobcats and Akron Zips were set to square off in a key matchup. The game was highly anticipated, as the ‘Cats and Zips were unquestionably the best teams in the MAC. While that still holds true, Akron may have put themselves in class above in their 86-72 win.
For Ohio fans, there is one positive coming out of this loss, a rematch looming in just a few weeks. Come February 27, if Akron is still undefeated and Ohio still has one loss, the game (which will take place at Athens), would be Ohio’s big chance at redemption.
Akron takes control: With Akron’s win on Saturday, the Zips now are the only undefeated team in the MAC. At this point, they control their own destiny on the road to Cleveland. If they win out, they will get the number one seed and will have to be considered the favorites to earn what will likely be the MAC’s line NCAA bid. (And yes, I will be eating crow for predicting three MAC schools would make the tournament in the debut of the basketball MAC blog.) Their one real test the rest of the way will be that rematch in Akron. And would it be all that surprising if Ohio won on their home floor like Akron did on theirs?
Odd Bobcat Statistic #1: On Saturday, Ohio star D.J. Cooper only shot 3-10 from the field, good for a 30 percent. For the season, that is 13.4 percent below average. For his career, that is 8.45 percent below his career average. One or two more shots made from Cooper may not have made a difference in the final score, but if he could have made more it could have opened more looks for teammates. And that could have helped the ‘Cats win the game.
Odd Bobcat Statistic #2: Ohio forward Ivo Baltic scored zero points against Akron this past Saturday. For the season, Baltic is averaging 8.2 points per game. Now if Cooper hits two more shots and Baltic can get his normal output, this game is a lot closer. If there is any hope of the Bobcats beating Akron later this month, both Cooper and Baltic are going to need to be their normal selves.
Odd Bobcat Statistic #3: Ohio shot 22-54 from the field against Akron, good for 40.7 percent. Akron, on the other hand, shot 32-57 – good for 56.1 percent. For the season, Ohio has made 48.4 percent of their shots, while Akron has shot 46.5 percent. This statistic (and the previous two) shows me one thing: that this game came down to shooting. Shot charts were not available for this game, but I’d imagine Ohio would have a lot more red on theirs than Ohio.
Standings, Standings, Standings: I don’t mean to be blunt here, but outside of Ohio and Akron, does anyone else in the MAC really matter? Combined, the rest of the league has winning percentage of 41.61 percent in MACtion. That is flat out awful. If someone other than Ohio or Akron wins the conference tournament (and thus gets a NCAA bid) I will be flabbergasted. For that reason alone, it’s hard to think of any other team in the league as relevant. They may push the top two, but in reality, it’s all about Akron and Athens. To see for yourself, take a look at the standings below.
As usual, let’s wrap this off with 10 Things I think I think.
- I’ll say it now: Ohio will win the rematch.
- I’ve heard that Akron’s arena was ungodly loud this weekend. Considering the rematch will take place on a Wednesday, I’m hoping the OU student body will come out to the game.
- On that thought, I’m hoping someone comes up with a fest for the Akron game. If a fugitive who robbed a woman for five measly dollars can get one, so can the most important athletic event in Athens this year, thus far.
- Can someone please sign Earl Boykins? The Eastern Michigan product may be 5’5, 133 pounds, but with Ira Newble no longer around, he’s the MAC’s best chance for NBA notoriety, minus Chris Kaman.
- Seriously. Someone in Athens come up with a fest for the Akron game. We have a reputation to uphold after all!
- How has Keith Dambrot not gotten a bigger job than Akron? He’s done a great job in city most know for rubber, and a long time ago, he coached LeBron James in high school. I want to see if he can take the next step.
- Ball State’s Majok Majok won the West Division Player of the Week. And as we all know, everything is better in twos. TRU.
- Ohio’s RPI ranking of 89 means they need to win the MAC Tournament to have a chance to make another Cinderella run.
- Akron, however, has an RPI ranking of 52. Still, if they lose once, they are likely out.
- 10. Once he goes pro, Akron’s Zeke Marshall will be a stud…… in the NBA D-League. In perfect world, he will form a studly front court with former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody. Throw in Lester Hudson and you have the makings of a D-League dynasty.