By Michael Reghi
If you don't enjoy how tasty this serving of MAC hoops will be as a prelude to the conference tournament, you better jump start those taste buds. Wow, kudos to the schedule-maker for these delights, with the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and even the MAC East regular season championship still at hand. And ‘who would have thunk it', as Akron's Zips held a three-game lead over Buffalo and Ohio going into last weekend.
That lead is now down to just one, after Akron stumbled and lost to Ohio and to Buffalo. The Zips are trying to secure their first regular season championship in program history and the top seed that goes along with it. That will force the Zips to defeat arch rival Kent State in their building to clinch that top seed. A Kent State win in front of a packed MAC Center and national television audience allows Buffalo's Bulls to seize the top seed with a win Saturday at home against Bowling Green. Steve Mix joins me on the Sportstime Ohio call from Alumni Arena Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Buffalo's win at Rhodes Arena Wednesday night put it in position to jump to the head of the class. Reggie Witherspoon's Bulls have dealt Akron two of its three conference losses and have been getting superb play from 6-10 senior Mitchell Watt coming down the stretch. Watt has been scalding. Over the last 5 games he's averaged 20 points on 68% shooting, seven rebounds and more than two blocked shots, capped by two brilliant performances in the wins over Miami and Akron. Check this out: Watt went 11-of-16 from the floor, scored 28 points and had five rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots in the win over the RedHawks. He backed that up with a 22-point effort in the win at Akron on 11-of-15 shooting, with six rebounds and two assists. Talk about senior leaders stepping to the forefront in the biggest moments. Place Watt squarely in the chase for MAC Player of the Year laurels.
Speaking of which, stay locked in at halftime of the Sportstime Ohio telecast from Buffalo Saturday. Steve Mix and I will bring you our choices for MAC first-team honors, along with our player-of-the-year choice. We'll also reveal our selections for coach-of-the-year, freshman-of-the-year, defensive player-of-the-year and sixth man-of-the-year. There are so many worthy candidates. It’s difficult pairing down those so worthy, but it must be done, so stay close to compare our choices with yours.
Buckle up everyone, Akron-Kent State, Ohio-Miami, Eastern Michigan-Toledo, and Bowling Green- Buffalo tip off in the next 36 hours, all with strong seeding implications attached to them.
Quick refresher: an Akron win over Kent State makes the Zips the top seed, with Buffalo No. 2 and Kent State No. 4. A Kent State win opens the door for Buffalo to win and push Akron to the second seed. Ohio must win to stay No. 3, or it opens the door for Eastern Michigan's Eagles, with a win at Toledo, to jump all the way to the third seed at 10-6. EMU is the champion of the MAC West in Rob Murphy's first season on the job in Ypsilanti. Could there be coach-of-the-year possibilities for Murphy? He’s gotta be in the discussion, right?
Enjoy the weekend of MAC Hoops, everyone. We’ll bring you the final seeding and all the matchups for the tournament during the Bowling Green-Buffalo battle Saturday night. See you on Sportstime Ohio beginning at 6pm.
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