The last half of Mid-American Conference play may provide some window of who is “hot” and who is not coming down the stretch. For now, two of the “hotter” teams are Akron and Buffalo. One will be on the road for Tuesday night’s contests, while the other plays host.
Akron, which leads MAC teams with a stellar 19-4 overall mark and is 8-2 in conference play is at Bowling Green Tuesday. The Zips are . . .
Akron is currently riding a six-game win skein that includes victories at Ball State (73-64) and Ohio (80-68). The Zips, however, did drop back-to-back games at Central Michigan and at Toledo in mid-January.
In its most recent outing, UA edged MAC West leader Central Michigan, 92-87, in Akron.
Bowling Green, meanwhile, has been struggling – at home and away. A 55-51 loss at Miami Saturday was the third straight setback for BGSU, which has now dropped 5-of-6. The only win in that stretch was a 79-78 triumph at Wetern Michigan.
Neighboring Toledo, meanwhile, managed to get back on track last week with a pair of wins that followed a three-game slide.
The Rockets are coming off an impressive 82-67 win at Kent State Saturday, and will need a similar effort to defeat Buffalo in the Bulls arena. UB already owns a road victory over Toledo this year, having edged the Rockets, 73-68, Jan. 30.
Moreover, Buffalo has won four straight and 6-of-7. The only blemish in that stretch was a 91-71 setback at Western Michigan Jan. 23.
Ohio at Ball State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Akron at Bowling Green, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Toledo at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. (TWCS/BCSN/ESPN3)
Northern Illinois at Kent State, 7:00 p.m. (Live Stream Online)
Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Miami at Western Michigan, 7:00 p.m. (ASN/ESPN3)
Here’s more on the field:
Akron Zips (19-4, 8-2 MAC)
The Akron Zips extended thier winning streak to six games while improving to 11-0 at James A Rhodes Arena. Akron has won 19 games for the 12th straight season under head coach Keith Dambrot. The Zips are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation for 3-point field goal defense, limiting opponents to shooting just 27.8 percent from beyond the arc. Akron ranks 3rd in the NCAA for 3-point field goals per game (11.3) and 5th in total triples made (260).
Ball State (15-8, 6-4 MAC)
At 15-8 overall this season, Ball State ranks as the second-most improved team in the country, according to the NCAA. The Cardinals have made a complete turnaround from their 7-23 mark last season. Only Tennessee State has made a larger turnaround this year. Ball State's record through 23 games is the best for the program since the 2001-02 also started 15-8. Two wins last week pushed Ball State into a tie for first place atop the MAC West Division at 6-4 in league play.
Bowling Green (13-10, 4-6 MAC)
BGSU is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, its longest of the season, as the Falcons return home to host the MAC East leading Akron Zips on Tuesday night, Feb. 9. Senior forward Spencer Parker is on the cusp of becoming just the 43rd player in BGSU men's basketball 100-year history to score 1,000 career points as a Falcon, as he enters play this week with 994 career points. Junior guard Zack Denny is just two three-pointers away from reaching the century mark for three-pointers made in his career at BGSU.
Buffalo (14-9, 7-3 MAC)
The Bulls have won four in a row after wins over Northern Illniois and Eastern Michigan this past week and have now won six of their last seven games. UB is 7-3 in MAC play and will be home for five of their final eight conference games. UB did an excellent job getting to the free throw line this past week as they went a combined 82 times in the two games, shooting .731 as a team.
Central Michigan (13-10, 6-4 MAC)
Central Michigan (13-10, 6-4 MAC) will begin an eight-game stretch against MAC West opponents to nish out the regular season on Tuesday, Feb. 9 when it travels to Ypsilanti for a 7 p.m. game against in-state rival Eastern Michigan (11-12, 3-7 MAC). CMU will be looking to avenge its lone home loss of the season, a 99-80 setback to the Eagles in the Chippewas' MAC opener on January 6. CMU is 2-6 (2-3 MAC) on the road this season while Eastern Michigan possesses an 8-3 home record, including a 2-2 mark in conference play.
Eastern Michigan (11-12, 3-7 MAC)
In a historic performance, EMU redshirt junior guard Raven Lee put together one of the most prolific offensive outputs in Eastern Michigan history in the Eagles' victory over Miami, Feb. 2. The Detroit, MIch. native went for 46 points, which is one point shy of the most in a game by an Eagle, on 11-of-16 shooting, including a scorching 9-for-11 from downtown. The nine triples ties Derrick Dial for the most three-pointers hit in a single game in Eastern Michigan history. His 46 points rank as the most scored by a student-athlete in Convocation Center history, while it also tied Buddy Hield of Oklahoma and A.J. English of Iona for the most points scored in an NCAA game this season. Additionally, he broke the Convo record for three pointers in a game. The 6-foot-3 combo guard did all of the damage in just 24 minutes on the court.
Kent State (15-8, 6-4 MAC)
Kent State (15-8, 6-4 MAC) hosts Northern Illinois (16-7, 5-5 MAC) in a pivotal Mid-American Conference contest at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the M.A.C. Center. Both teams look to stay in division races after falling out of first place in the last few games. The frontcourt of Jimmy Hall (16.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg), Khaliq Spicer (6.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Chris Ortiz (7.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) has helped Kent State control play around the basket. The Flashes own a +4.5 rebounding advantage while outscoring opponents 34.8-26.7 in the paint and 12.4-9.0 on second chance opportunities.
Miami (8-15, 2-8 MAC)
Miami has won two of its last three, both coming at Millett Hall. The RedHawks collected a 72-59 win against Northern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 30 and used a balanced team effort one week later to notch a 55-51 win against Bowling Green on Saturday, Feb. 6. The win against the Falcons was the 450th inside Millett Hall. Against the Huskies, Miami sunk a season-high 10 3-pointers. Against Bowling Green, Miami hauled in 46 rebounds to tie its most this season, equaling its rebound effort against Jackson State on Dec. 15. Miami's +10 margin on the boards against the Falcons also tied its season bests against Kenyon on Nov. 19 and IPFW on Nov. 24. Miami hits the road for a pair of games this week and seeks its first road win of the season.
Northern Illinois (16-7, 5-5 MAC)
The NIU freshmen class of Marshawn Wilson, Jaylen Key, Austin Pauga, Laytwan Porter and Levi Bradley have combined to score 38.3 percent of NIU's total points this season.Laytwan Porter's 2.3 assists per game are the most among freshmen in the MAC. Porter is also averaging 1.0 steals per game, tied for the most among MAC freshmen this season with Buffalo's C.J. Massinburg.
Ohio (14-8, 5-5 MAC)
Ohio has scored at least 80 points 11 times this year. The Bobcats reached the 80-point mark just five times in 30 games last season.
Toledo (14-9, 5-5 MAC)
Toledo shot 54.8 percent from the field in its victories over Western Michigan and Kent State last week. The Rockets also registered a sizzling 51.2 three-point field-goal percentage (22-of-43) and 85.4 free-throw percentage (22-of-43). UT averaged 85.5 ppg in its two wins and allowed just 64.5 ppg.
Western Michigan (9-14, 3-7 MAC)
WMU sophomore point guard Thomas Wilder leads the MAC in scoring during conference contests, averaging 22.0 ppg in league play. In all games combined, Wilder is averaging 18.7 ppg, which is second most in the MAC. Wilder has scored in double digits in every game but three (vs. Liberty - 6 pts; vs. Marygrove - 8 pts; vs. Northern Illinois - 9 pts). Last year as a freshman Wilder averaged 7.2 ppg.