Welcome back to the MAC Blog. Due to Bracket Buster games being announced, Speakeasy Sports is providing you with a second dose of the MAC Blog this week. While there are no 2 Chainz references in this edition (sorry Rembert Browne), you will leave this blog full informed on all the Bracket Buster games involving the Mid-American Conference. Or something along those lines.
Ohio takes on Belmont: The Bobcats were the lone MAC team to draw a road game for the Bracket Busters. Ohio will travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Belmont Bruins, who are 10-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference. If the Bobcats are to win this game (which will air on ESPN 2), it is going to take a full 40-minute effort. Belmont is 19 in the nation in scoring at 77.6 points per game and is eighth in the country in shooting percentage at 49.3 percent. If Ohio can win this game, they will be set up well to finish out the year strong.
Also, as I mentioned in the previous MAC Blog from this week, the ‘Cats will have their rematch with Akron just a few days after the Bracket Buster game. I don’t think it would be outlandish to say that the last two weeks in February will be the most important of Ohio’s season.
Akron takes on North Dakota State: Akron will get a home game for their Bracket Buster match up as they will take on the North Dakota State Bisons on February 22nd. The Bisons best statistic is that they are the 16th best shooting team in the nation at 48.4 percent. Admittedly, I have not seen the Bisons play this season, but I have seen Akron play. Their win over Ohio this past week has put them at the top of the MAC, and I’d expect them to win this gam – especially at home. If they can get the JAR rocking, it will be hard environment for the Bisons to come into, giving Akron a built in advantage. If they can win this game (and then beat Ohio in a rematch), then they will be in a prime position for the MAC tournament.
Western Michigan hosts Pacific: The Western Michigan Broncos are flying under the radar in the MAC, despite currently leading the MAC West. The Broncos will take on the Pacific Tigers, the second place team in the Big West Conference. Western Michigan will have a big rebounding advantage in this game as they pull down 38.3 rebound a game as compared to Pacific’s 31.4 per game average. The Broncos also play host to the Kent State Golden Flashes on Wednesday, making these next two weeks key. If they can get momentum going, then they may be able to establish themselves as a dark horse threat for the MAC championship.
Nine other games announced: Nine other MAC teams will be playing in Bracket Buster games, but they will not be televised. The games are as follows.
- Central Michigan at Youngstown State
- Kent State at Loyola Chicago
- Toledo vs. McNeese State
- Eastern Michigan vs. Missouri State
- Miami at Southern Illinois
- Buffalo at Manhattan
- Ball State at Southeast Missouri State
- Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Illinois
- Bowling Green at IPFW
What it all means For a MAC school, winning a Bracket Buster game is really all about getting your name out there. A big win on national television can only help your case for a NCAA Tournament bid. A victory will be no means get you in the tournament, but it can help. In the past, teams with a win these games have made deep runs come March. Kent State reached the 2002 regional final on the heels of a victory, while George Mason and Davidson reached the Final Four in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Butler also has had success, reaching the title game in 2010 and 2011. As mentioned before, a win here is by no means a sure fire indicator of future success. But it can be key in establishing momentum for a late season run, which is really what the whole season builds up to. After all, the only team anybody ever remembers is the team that wins in all come March/April.