Akron (1-Seed), Ohio (2-Seed), Buffalo (3-Seed) and Central Michigan (4-Seed) should be relatively well rested, having last played on Friday.
The top four seeds earned byes through first round play., and they may be thankful for that beyond the rest. Seeds five and six will not be coming to Cleveland after falling to the 12- and 11-seeds, respectively. Bowling Green and Miami both pulled off upsets on the road to punch their tickets to Quicken Loans Arena. The No. 11 RedHawks edged No. 5 Ball-State, 49-47. Bowling Green nipped Kent State 70-69. Both winners had lost twice to their victim during the regular season.
Three of the four top seeds are coming off victories in the final regular season outing. Central Michigan was the only one to fall, dropping a 91-82 overtime decision to rival Western Michigan in Mt. Pleasant.
Here’s a quick look at Thursday’s matchups.
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No. 8 Seed Western Michigan vs. No. 1 Seed Akron
-- Head coach Keith Dambrot was named MAC Coach of the Year Wednesday after guiding his team to a 24-7 record and MAC regular season title.
-- Four Zips received All-MAC honors: Isiah Johnson (First Team), Reggie McAdams (Second Team), Antino Jackson (Honorable Mention), Josh Williams (All-Freshman).
-- Akron racked up 10 straight wins at one point this year and also had a seven game win streak in conference play. After back-to-back losses at Kent State and Miami, UA ran off three straight wins to close the regular season.
-- Last time out, Akron avenged its earlier loss at Kent State, knocking off the Flashes 74-60.
Four Akron players are averaging double figures: Isaiah Johnson (13.1 ppg), Antino Jackson (11.8 ppg), Reggie McAdams (11.1) and Noah Robothan (10.1 ppg).
WESTERN MICHIGAN (13-19. 7-11 MAC)
-- It’s been a roller coaster season for the Broncos – never winning or losing more than two straight games.
-- Last time out, WMU lost at Northern Illinois 56-50, ending a two-game winning streak that included victories over Toledo and Central Michigan.
-- Akron and Western met once this season, with UA posting a 62-53 win on January. 8.
-- Thomas Wilder averaged 18.0 ppg -- good for second among MAC players. He was an All-MAC Second Team selection.
No. 12 Seed Bowling Green vs. No. 4 Seed Central Michigan
-- The preseason MAC favorite got off to a slow start this year in part because of an injury to cornerstone Chris Fowler. He returned in early December and has reached double figure scoring in All-but one game since that time. Fowler finished the season averaging 16.8 ppg (fifth in MAC), 4.1 rpg and 5.9 apg. He is a 2016 All-MAC First Team member.
-- Braylon Rayson (Third Team All-MAC) averaged 16.2 ppg. while Rayshawn Simmons was at 12.4 ppg. John Simons was just off double figures with 9.8 ppg>
-- Last time out, Central Michigan lost to Western Michigan, 91-82 in overtime. The Broncos scored 26 points in OT.
-- CMU won four of five games before losing to Western Michigan, which also defeated the Chippewas Feb. 20.
-- Central Michigan had both a three-game win streak and threee-game losing streak among its final nine regular season outings.
BOWLING GREEN15-17 (5-13 MAC)
-- The Falcons had lost 10-of-11 before defeating Kent State Monday night. The one win, however, was over No. 2 seed Ohi, 87-82.
-- Last time out: Antwon Lillard scored All-13 of his points in the second half to help KSU pull out the win. Spencer Parker tallied 18 and Wesley Alcegaire added 14.
Parker (14.4 ppg), Zack Denny (11.0 ppg) and Alcegair (10.5 ppg) led the BG offense. Parker earned All-MAC Honorable mention honors.
No. 7 Seed Northern Illinois vs. No. 2 Seed Ohio
-- The Bobcats won seven of their last nine games.
-- Last time out: Ohio edged Miami 67-65 on a Jaaron Simmons layup with 1:08 left.
-- Antonio Campbell led the team with an average of 17.5 ppg and 10.0 rpg. On Wednesday, he was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.
-- Other Bobcats averaging double figures were Simmons (15.2 ppg), Kenny Kaminski (12.5 ppg) and Treg Setty (11.7 ppg. Jordan Dartis, an All-Freshman team member, chipped in 9.7 ppg to the Ohio cause.
- Simmons was an All-MAC Second Team member.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (21-11, 9-9 MAC)
-- The Huskies lost just one game at home this season, going 18-1 on the home hardwood and 3-10 away from DeKalb.
-Last time out: The Huskies beat Western Michigan 56-60 in MAC Tourney first round action Monday.
-- EMU has won three of its last four. The Eagles had two seven-game win streaks this year.
-- Marin Maric earned All-MAC Third Team honors and let the team with a 12;3 ppg average (8.5 rpg) . However, he was unavailable for the last two games. Other NIU players averaging double figures are Travon Baker (11.2 ppg), Aaric Armstead (11.1 ppg) and Marshawn Wilson (106. ppg).
-- Armstead was a member of the All-MAC Defensive Team.
No. 11 Miami vs No. 3 Buffalo
-- Last time out: The Bulls broke a two-game losing streak with an 87-83 win at Bowling Green Friday.
-- Buffalo and Miami split their season series, each winning on the other’s floor.
-- Lamonte Bearden was named to the All-MAC Third Team. Blake Hamilton garnered Third Team honors, while CJ Massinburg was named to the All-Freshman Team. Willie Conner was part of the All-Defensive team.
-- Three days afte scoring 96 points in a 103-96 loss at Ohio, UB scoted just 59 in a 67-59 home loss to Miami.
-- Hamilton had 22 points against Miami in Oxford and 20 in the home loss.
MIAMI (13-19 (6-12 MAC)
-- The RedHawks lost 10 straight games at one point this season. More recently,they have turned things around, winning four of their last five.
-- Miami defeated each of their MAC East rivals except Ohio (two point loss) in their second meeting.
-- Defense has been a key factor in the RedHawks late-season turnaround. In particular, they have been better able to defend the 3-point shot, which wa a problem earlier in the season.
-- Senior point guard Eric Washington (13.9 ppg) and guard Geovonie McKnight (13.2 ppg) , both All-MAC Honorable Mention, are cornerstones for much of what Miami does. Offensively, they like to penetrate for either layups, pull-ups or contact that draws fouls. The RedHawks are at their offensive best when they can get perimeter scoring from some of the underclassmen to open up the middle.
-- Junior forward Chris Bryant has averaged 11 ppg over the last three games, nearly doubling his season average (5.9). That has helped MU get some production inside.