Mid-American Conference teams will have a variety of possible motivations when they wrap up regular season play Friday night.
For some, MAC tournament seeding is at stake. Some are facing traditional rivals. Still others are just hopeful of adding another win to the record – or maybe even building a little momentum.
Heading into the final night, only three teams have more than a one game win streak. Two of those are atop their respective divisions. Akron, the East and overall MAC leader at 23-7, 12-5 MAC, has won two straight and locked up the tourney's No. 1 see Tuesday.. However, not only is it playing rival Kent State Friday, it has a chance to wrap up a perfect record on the home hardwood. Sounds like future bragging rights for the seniors!
Kent State (19-11, 10-7 MAC) knocked off Akron in the first meeting, but is 1-2 since then. The Flashes got back on the winning track Tuesday with a 70-54 victory over struggling Bowling Green in the KSU home finale.
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finish with Western Michigan, which just happens to be the last team to defeat CMU (92-85) . This time, however, Central will be playing on its home court.
The other team riding a three-game win skein is surprising Miami. Not only have the RedHawks ( won three straight, two of the victims were Akron and Kent State. If the MU (12-18, 6-11 MAC) can pull out a home court win against rival Ohio Friday, it will have reversed the outcome against each of the MAC East opponents, all of whom defeated them the first time around.
Ohio beat MU back on Feb. 20. But Miami, missing four suspended players reduced a 23-point deficit to five points before falling 76-64. Several sophomores got extended playing time for the RedHawks, and they responded. It appeared to buoy their confidence, and they have helped MU prevail in each of the three contests since that loss to OU.
At 10-7 – two games behind Akron – the Bobcats can’t catch Akron, but Ohio (19-10 overall) can put itself in position for a possible first round bye. It has lost two of the last three, falling to Akron 91-76 Tuesday after pulling out a 103-96 overtime victory over Buffalo last Saturday. Bowling Green edged the ‘Cats, 87-82 at the Stroh Center in the previous outing.
Here are the Friday night matchups . . .
Buffalo at Bowling Green, 7:00 p.m. ET (TWCS/BCSN/ESPN3)
Ball State at Northern Illinois, 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET (CBSSN)
Ohio at Miami, 7:00 p.m. ET (TWCS/ESPN3)
Kent State at Akron, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Eastern Michigan at Toledo, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
And here is more on the games . . .
Buffalo (16-14, 9-8 MAC) at Bowling Green (14-16, 5-12)
The Bulls had won six of seven games from mid-January to early February. They are, however, stumbling toward the finish. They have lost two straight and five of seven heading into a road date at Bowling Green.
The Falcons are on an even steeper dive, having posted just one victory over the last 10 games.
Eastern Michigan (16-14, 8-9 MAC) at Toledo (17-13, 8-9 MAC)
The Eagles have won three of four, with the loss being a 115-79 stinker at Ball State. One of the wins in that stretch was a 91-85 decision at home over Toledo. Can they pull out another win over the Rockets – this time at Saveage Arena.
Toledo has struggled mightily lately. It’s one win over the last five games was a big one – 77-67 over Ball State. But Back-to-back losses (Central Michigan, 76-74, at home and 70-64 at Western Michigan followed. Eastern Michigan prevailed in the first UT-EMU meeting, 91-85, in Ypsilanti.
Ball State (19-11, 10-7 MAC) at Northern Illinois (19-11, 8-9 MAC)
The Cardinals must shake off their disappointing home court loss to Central Michigan Saturday. Instead of administering a knockout blow, BSU fell into a first place tie with the Chippewas.
While they have been close games, NIU has nonetheless dropped three of its last four, including a 75-71 loss at Eastern Michigan Saturday and 63-59 setback at Ball State on Feb. 19. Northern Illinois is 16-1 at home, so the Cardinals (5-6 on the road) would be well advised to bring their A-game.