The Mid-American Conference tournament kicks off today, let's look at how we did preseason and dive in for a preview of what's to come:
Revised All-Conference selections:
Best Call(s): My best calls were correctly picking the top team in each division. The caveat to this is that Central Michigan (my #1 overall pick) actually finished 4th this year as the East division boasted the top three teams in the conference. I'll still take it. Otherwise nothing really to see here; I did okay on the all-conference teams but overlooking the impact of Jaaron Simmons was a big gaffe.
Worst Call(s): Boy did I blow the Ohio preview. The Bobcats (who I picked dead last in the conference) ended up being one of the toughest teams in the league behind forward Antonio Campbell and aforementioned guard Jaaron Simmons. To be fair, no one really predicted the impact Simmons (a transfer from Houston) and Kaminski (a Sparty transfer) who have on this team and the improvement of forward Treg Setty was unexpected as well. In addition, I missed on Ball State who I actually said I was pretty high on in my preview, just didn't have the balls to slot them higher than 6th in the West. Western Michigan was a dumpster fire compared to where I thought they'd be; this in retrospect was just not a good call.
Who I want to win: This is tough. I really like almost every team in the MAC so it would be fun to see any of them playing in the Dance. I was in love with Central Michigan in the preseason but their piss poor defense and gambling-related woes have sense cooled my affection. Akron would be great to see since they stand out from the rest of the crowd as truly the best team in the conference. Seeing Simmons and Ohio in the tourney would also be a treat.
Who I think will win: I think Akron gets it done (yes, boring pick). Even with the injury to Forsythe, the Zips come into the tourney as the league's best team and one of its hottest as well. Central Michigan could give them trouble in the semis, but I think they get past them when its all said and done. The lower half of the bracket is murderer's row with Ohio, Buffalo, Ball State, and underrated Northern Illinois.
Chance to make a run: Ohio, Buffalo, and Kent State all have chances to get hot and make a run in the MAC tourney. Buffalo's guards are tough as nails, Ohio has perhaps the best starting group in the conference, and Kent State has uber-forward Jimmy Hall. Whoever survives the bottom half of the bracket has a great shot at knocking off Akron in the finals. As far as the NCAA Tournament goes, I think Akron could pull an early upset over a 4-seed (the Zips likely earn a 13). Ohio would likely be looking at a 14, but could be a 13; any other school would be locked at a 14. I expect a MAC school to pull a first round upset.
How it plays out:
(8) Eastern Michigan over (9) Toledo
(5) Kent State over (12) Bowling Green
(7) Northern Illinois over (10) Western Michigan
(6) Ball State over (11) Miami (OH)
(1) Akron over (8) Eastern Michigan
(5) Kent State over (4) Central Michigan
(2) Ohio over (7) Northern Illinois
(6) Ball State over (3) Buffalo
(1) Akron over (5) Kent State
(2) Ohio over (6) Ball State
(1) Akron over (2) Ohio
Akron earns a 13-seed and upends a 4 on their way to the second round where they play a 5-seed close before falling.