2011 Mid American Conference Tournament Preview and Picks

By Mike Ivcic

Favorite:
1. Kent State (12-4)
The Golden Flashes won the tougher of the league’s two divisions and finished a game better than both Miami Ohio and Western Michigan. They’ll have the target on their back in what will almost certainly be, once again, a one-bid league. But in a conference tournament known for upsets and wild finishes, expecting the top seed to come out unscathed is usually a risky proposition.

Challengers:
2. Western Michigan (11-5)
3. Miami OH (11-5)
The biggest challenge to Kent State will likely come in the finals against the winner of a possible semifinal matchup between these two schools. The Redhawks don’t give up many points, while the Broncos like to score. That usually makes for fun basketball. Miami’s interior presence could give them the edge in this matchup, and they’ll be looking for revenge after an overtime loss to WMU during the regular season. The Broncos, however, have won 7 of 8, with their only loss in that stretch coming to Kent State.

Dark Horses:
4. Ball State (10-6)
5. Ohio (9-7)
6. Akron (9-7)
7. Bowling Green (8-8)
8. Buffalo (8-8)
With the exception of Ball State, the other four teams in this group have all beaten Kent State this season, which accounts for the Golden Flashes’ four losses. Buffalo will likely get the first crack at the league’s top team – IF they get past Central Michigan in the first round. The other three teams that have to play in round once (Ohio, Akron, and BG) should all win their first round matchups, which would set up some very enticing quarterfinal games. Of the group, Akron’s three-point shooting and Ohio’s experience (remember the Bobcats’ upset of Georgetown in last year’s NCAA?) could be deciding factors if the conference is going to see any upsets before Friday.

Longshots:
9. Central Michigan (7-9)
10. Northern Illinois (5-11)
11. Eastern Michigan (5-11)
12. Toledo (1-15)
The bottom four teams in this conference could all be done after just one game, a product of the conference’s tournament restructuring that goes off of record as opposed to division placement. As mentioned above, the Chippewas have the best shot at pulling an “upset,” drawing Buffalo in the first round. Beyond that, even a win in the opening game would likely prove futile in the quarterfinals for any of the above clubs, as the Mid Am simply doesn’t have the depth it once did.

Pick: Western Michigan

NCAA Teams: 1 (Western Michigan)

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