Buffalo, a No. 3 seed this year, is the two-time defending champion. Akron survived a rough stretch late in the year to secure the top spot. Tiebreakers helped Ohio (2) and Ball State (3) grab byes thanks to their top-four finish.
The hottest team . . .
Here’s more on Monday’s matchups.
(All states are MAC-play only)
No. 9 Northern Illinois at No. 8 Eastern Michigan
-- NIU has struggled mightily down the stretch, losing seven its last eight outings. One of those losses was a 84-68 setback at Eastern Michigan. However, the Huskies split the season series, winning 81-69 over EMU in DeKalb back on Feb. 4. It was one of two NIU wins in February and March.
-- Eastern Michigan finished the regular season winning two of three. However, those were the Eagles only wins over the last 10 games.
-- EMU and NIU rank 10th and 11th, respectively in scoring offense. The Eagles are first in scoring defense (72.4 ppg), while Northern is fourth (73.2 ppg)
--Eastern Michigan leads the MAC in blocked shots (4.2 per game). It is also first in steals (8.6) and turnover marcin (+2.83).
-- Willie Magnum IV leads EMU scoring with 15.1 ppg in MAC play, while Marin Maric is at 14.6 ppg for the Huskies.
-- James Thompson IV is second among MAC rebounders with 11.1 rpg. Maric is fourth with 9.5 rpg.
No. 2 Miami at No. 5 Western Michigan
-- The Broncos are hot; Miami is not. As mentioned, WMU has run off eight straight wins. Miami has lost five of its last six and nine of its last 11 outings.
-- The RedHawks struggles were particularly acute on the road. They registered just one road win all season, although that was at No. 1 seed Akron Feb. 28.
-- Western Michigan defeated Miami in Oxford, 72-55, back on Feb. 7. Reggie Jones scored a career-high 26 points in that meeting. Miami had just one player in double figures – Marcus Weathers with 13.
-- WMU is sixth in scoring offense (77.1 ppg). Miami ranks last (67.8 ppg). The RedHawks are also last in scoring margin ((-8.0), while Western is fifth (+2.5).
- Two issues for Miami have been rebounding and 3-point shooting. The RedHawks are last (12th) in both. In the win over Akron, however, MU hit 8 of 17 triple tries (47.1%). Jake Wright hit five treys that evening and is arguably the RedHawks best outside scoring threat.
-- Freshman point guard Michael Weathers leads Miami scoring (14.9 ppg) in conference play and is among the leaders in blocks and steals.
-- Thomas Wilder leads the Broncos and is third among MAC players with a 20.8 ppg average in conference play. Tucker Haymond is averaging 16.3 ppg (10th, MAC).
No. 10 Bowling Green at No. 7 Toledo
-- The Falcons lost their last two regular season games and dropped five of their last seven. The two wins came at home against Akron and on the road against Miami in back-to-back outings in the next to last week of the regular season.
-- Toledo has been on something of a roller coaster ride. Only once during MAC play have the Rockets either won or lost more than two straight games. In fact, since Feb. 14, UT has not won or lost more than one game in a row.
-- The two rivals split their season series – each winning on their home court. Toledo took the first meeting, 85-73. The Falcons pulled out a 104-100 victory in the return matchup.
-- Toledo has been involved in eight overtime games during 2016-17 play.
-- UT ranks fourth in scoring margin (+3.2). Bowling Green is 11th (-6.2).
-- Jonathan Williams leads UT in MAC scoring and is fourth in the conference with a 19.6 ppg average. Steve Taylor Jr. carries a 15.5 ppg average.
-- Zach Denny tops Falcon scorers, averaging 13.5 ppg in MAC play.
-- Toledo is fourth in rebounding margin (+3.0), while the Falcons are 10th (-2.6). The Rockets’ Taylor leads all MAC rebounders (13.2 rpg).
-- Turnovers have been an issue for UT, which ranks last with a -2.44 turnover margin. Bowling Green is second (+2.17).
No. 11 Central Michigan at No. 6 Kent State
-- CMU was rolling through the middle of its conference schedule, winning five of six at one point. A lost at Miami back on Feb. 11, however, sent the Chippewas on a downward spiral. They finished the MAC schedule with eight straight losses.
-- Conversely, Kent State posted five straight wins before dropping its MAC finale at home against rival Akron Friday.
-- Central Michigan pulled out a 105-88 overtime win on the Flashes home court back on Jan. 28. National scoring leader Marcus Keene scored 11 of his 41 points on the day in overtime.
-- Keene and Braylon Rayson not only lead the Chippewas scoring, they are 1-2 in MAC scoring. Keene owns a 28.8 ppg average in MAC play, while Raylson is at 23.3 ppg.
-- Jimmy Hall’s 18.6 ppg average is fifth among all MAC players. Jaylin Walker is at 15.3 ppg.
-- Hall is third among MAC rebounders (10.0 rpb). As a team, the Flashes are third in rebounding margin (+3.4). Central Michigan is 11th (-4.8)