Here’s a brief look at, and update on, MAC East teams to date.
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Head Coach: Michael Huger
2015-16 Record: 26-9, 14-5 MAC
First in MAC East
Lost to Buffalo in MAC tourney title game
Lost to Ohio State in overtime, first round of NIT tourney.
Head coach: Keith Dambrot
Letterwinners returning/lost: 9/3
Starters returning/lost: 3/2
2016-17 Preseason Prediction: First in MAC East
The Zips have been a perennial contender for MAC titles and figure to be strong again in head coach Keith Dambrot’s 13th season. Akron made its eighth MAC tournament title game appearance in the last year seasons last March.
The 26 wins last season were a school record. UA also set program records in 3-point made field goals (409) and attempts (1,069).
The Zips are off to a 10-3 start. After losing the opener to Youngstown State, Akron ran off six straight wins. The two other losses came against top 10 teams (#10 Creighton, 82-70 and #8 Gonzaga, 61-43). Akron carries an active three-game win streak into the MAC season. They begin MAC play by hosting Bowling Green Tuesday and Western Michigan Saturday.
STATS (all rankings are MAC):
► Akron is averaging 78.8 ppg (4th) on offense and 67.2 ppg (3rd) on defense.
► UA tops the MAC in field goal percentage (48.3%) and 3-point goal percentage (39.3%)
► Akron is fourth in rebounding margin (+5.7 per game)
► The Zips are ninth in turnover margin (-0.45)
► UA has been good on 70.4 percent of its free throws.
► Three Zips are averaging double figures: Isaiah Johnson (14.7 ppg), Antino Jackson (12.0 ppg), Noah Robotham (11.2 ppg). Not far behind are Jimond Ivey (9.3 ppg), Josh Willias (9.0 ppg) and Kwan Cheatham Jr. (8.9 ppg).
► Leading rebounders are Johnson (6.8 rpg) and Cheatham (6.4 rpg).
2015-16 Record: 16-18, 5-13 MAC
Sixth in MAC East
Lost to Akron, 80-66, after pulling off two upset wins in the 2016 Mid-American Conference tournament.
Letterwinners Returning/Lost 9/5
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
The Falcons approached .500 in new head coach Michael Huger’s first season at the helm. It was a season as ups and down, with BGSU winning six straight at one point during non-conference play and losing seven straight (9 of 10) later during MAC play. The two upset wins in MAC tournament play (against teams that had beat the Falcons twice during the season) seemed to show BGSU’s progress. Three freshman combined to make 38 starts for Bowling Green last year. Five of the top six scorers return. The squad also returns 74.3 percent of its rebounding and 72.4 percent of its made 3-point goal producers from last season.
Bowling Green stumbled out of the gate this season, dropping the first four games before winning three straight. Two wins to close the non-conference slate leave the Falcons at 6-7. They open MAC play with two road tilts, traveling to Akron Tuesday and meeting Ball State Saturday.
STATS (all rankings are MAC):
► Bowling Green ranks last among MAC teams in scoring offense (73.7 ppg) and is sixth in scoring defense (71.5 ppg).
► The Falcons are last in field goal percentage (42.0%) and fourth in 3-point goal percentage (37.5%).
► BGSU’s rebounding margin of +0.1 is 10th among MAC teams, while the Falcons are fifth in turnover margin (+1.85)
► Bowling Green has converted 66.7 percent of its free throws.
► Senior guard Wes Alcegaire (6-6, 210) tops BGSU scorer with a 13.4 ppg average. Senior G Zach Denny isalso in double figures with his 12.0 ppg average. Demajeo Wiggins, a 6-10 sophomore, provides 9.4 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
Head coach: Nate Oats
2015-16 Record: 20-15, 11-7 MAC
3rd MAC East
Buffalo got hot at the right time last year. The Bulls had lost five of eight games just prior to MAC tournament play, but they stormed through the tourney with three straight wins. UB bumped off Akron, 64-61 in the finals to register its second straight MAC tournament tile.
Buffalo fell to the Miami Hurricanes, 79-72 in NCAA Tournament first round action.
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 9/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
2016-17 Media Preseason Prediction: 3rd MAC East
The Bulls are seeking an unprecedented third straight MAC championship. While they were picked for third in the MAC East, it’s hard to count UB out of anything. The success under first year head coach Oats, along with the loss of several key players, was impressive. The three returning starters include Blake Hamilton, an All-MAC Third Team member who is the Bulls leading returning scorer and rebounder. Willie Conner was named to the All-MAC Defensive Team and was crowned last year’s MAC Tournament MVP. C.J. Massinb urg was named to the All-MAC Freshman squad. Nick Perkins was the first Buffalo player to score 20 points in an NCAA Tournament game.
Heading into MAC play, the Bulls own a 6-7 record. Two of the losses came against ranked teams (#11 Xavier, 86-53, and #10 Creighton, 93-72). The last outing, a 79-60 win over Maine, broke a two-two game slide. That was part of a stretch in which UB lost five of six contests.
STATS (All rankings are MAC):
► Buffalo is scoring 76.5 ppg (7th) and allowing 73.5 ppg (8th)
► The Bulls are hitting 46.1 percent of their field goals overall (5th) and 33.7 percent (8th) on treys.
► UB is tied (with Ball State) for second in rebounding margin (+5.7).
► Buffalo is last in turnover margin (-3.85)
► The Bulls have four players averaging double figures. Senior forward Blake Hamilton leads the way with a 17.9 ppg average. He is also a key rebounder (6.4 rpg).
► Joining Hamilton in double figures are C.J. Massinburg (14.6 ppg), Willie Conner (14.2 ppg) and Nick Perkins (13.5 ppg, team-high 6.8 rpg).
Head Coach: Rob Senderoff
2015-16 Overall Record: 19-13
2015-16 MAC Record: 10-8 (3rd MAC East)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 4/6
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
2016-17 MAC Preseason Prediction: 4th MAC East
The Flashes won eight of nine during one stretch last year. However, they sputtered down the stretch, dropping 8 of 12. The end came when KSU, a fifth seed, fell to 12th-seeded Bowling Green at home in MAC tournament play. It was a stunning loss for the proud program and likely some incentive for this year’s campaign.
The Flashes have twice strung together three wins, but the biggest win broke a two-game losing streak as KSU downed Texas, 63-58. That left the Flashes with an 8-5 mark entering MAC play.
Kent State, which reached 100 point twice in non-conference play, hosts Ball State Tuesday before heading to Ohio for a Friday night at the Convo.
STATS (All rankings are MAC)
► Kent State is scoring at a 78.5 ppg clip (5th) and yielding 67.5 ppg (4th).
► The Flashes are 11th in overall field goal percentage with a 42.3 success rate and occupy the same rank in 3-point goals (30.9%)
► With the field goal accuracy down, Kent State has helped itself on the boards. It leads the conference in rebounding with a +9.5 mark.
► KSU is fourth in turnover margin (+2.62)
► The Flashes are converting71.3 percent of their free throws.
► Senior forward Jimmy Hall is among the conference leaders in both scoring and rebounding. His 17.7 ppg puts him fifth among MAC scorers, while he is second in rebounding (11.2 rpg).
► Other Flashes in double figures are Jaylin Walker (14.5 ppg) and Deon Edwin (11.3 ppg).
Head Coach: John Cooper
2015-16 Overall Record: 13-20
2015-16 MAC Record: 6-12 (5th MAC East)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/9
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/3
2016-17 MAC Preseason Prediction: 6th MAC East
The RedHawks struggled through much of last year, dropping 10 straight games over a stretch that included the end of non-conferencce play and half of the MAC slate. MU pulled off a 49-47 upset at Ball State in MAC Tourney opening round play last March, but eventual champ Buffalo knocked Miami out by a 94-81 count to end the RedHawks season.
Only two players on last year’s squad averaged double figures – Eric Washington (13.9 ppg) and Geovonie McKnight (13.2). Both are gone. There is only one senior on the roster, and he sees limited time. Several juniors return, but they have provided limited scoring to date. Much o f the non-conference schedule was spent giving newcomer experience and giving the coaching staff a chance to evaluate various combination. Cooper recently noted the bench will likely “shrink” some now that conference play is starting.
Miami neither lost nor won more than two in a row over the first 13 games and owns a 7-6 record to date. It won three of the last four, with the loss coming in an overtime setback at Central Florida, where 7-6 Tacko Fall scored a career-high 31 points.
► MU is scoring 74.4 ppg (10th) and allowing 73.4 ppg (7th).
► The RedHawks rank 10th in field goal percentage (42.9%) and have connected on 32.1 percent (10th) of their threes.
► Miami is last in rebounding margin (-1.5).
► MU is eighth in turnover margin ((+0.54)
► The RedHawks are in the midst of a major transformation that is intrinsically linked to some young, but talented, newcomers. Three of the top four scorers are new to the lineup.
► Jake Wright (10.2 ppg) is a redshirt sophomore transfer for the Citadel who leads the team in 3-point goals (14) and attempts (93).
► A talented freshmen class is headed by the Weathers twins – Marcus and Michael.
The latter is a point guard who is extremely adept at driving and getting to the line, where he has hit 79 of 99 attempts thus far. He is also capable of hitting jump shots. Overall, Michael Weathers is averaging 19.2 ppg, good for third among all MAC scorers.
Twin brother Marcus Weathers is about three inches taller at 6-3 and is part of the RedHawks inside presence. His contributions will be important this season as the RedHawks lost Prescious Ayah a few weeks before the season opener. They had anticipated Ayah, a freshman forward who will miss the entire year, as being a primary rebounder. Marcus Weathers is averaging 8.6 ppg with a season-high of 18 points against Grambling. He is also pulling down 5.5 rebounds per outing.
► Junior Logan McLane is the other RedHawk in double figures. The 6-9 junior averages 10 ppg and 5.9 rpg. He has twice score 17 points this season and reached double figures in six of the last seven games in which he played more than 12 minutes.
Head Coach: Saul Phillips
2015-16 Overall Record: 23-12
2015-16 MAC Record: 11-7 (2nd MAC West)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/1
Starters Returning/Lost: 4/1
2016-17 MAC Preseason Prediction: 2nd MAC East
After posting just 10 victories the previous campaign, Ohio improved to 23 victories last season, matching the 1998-99 team for the biggest turnaround in program history. The ‘Cats earned a No. 2 seed in the MAC tournament and dispatched No. 7 Northern Illinois before falling to Buffalo, 88-74, in the semifinals.
Ohio made its 22nd postseason appearance in program history and advanced to the semifinals of the 2016 College Football Invitational before losing to Morehead State.
A hint of the Bobcats capabilities is the presence of two players on the All-MAC Preseason Team. It’s the second straight year for senior forward Antonio Campbell. He is joined by redshirt junior guard Jaaron Simmons.
Campbell was a 2015-16 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America selection after garnering 2016 MAC Player of the Year honors.
Ohio opened the current campaign with four straight wins before falling to rival Marshall, 98-88. Ohio (8-3) lost twice more: at Iona, 79-75, and at Western Kentucky, 67-66.
Ohio opens MAC play at home against Western Michigan Tuesday before entertaining Kent State Friday night.
STATS (All rankings are MAC)
► Ohio is averaging 75.9 ppg on offense (8th). Defensively, the 66.3 average tops the MAC.
► The Bobcats have connected on 43.7 percent ((8th) of their shots overall and 38.7 percent (2nd) from beyond the arc.
► OU owns a +1.9 rebounding margin (9th) and is sixth in turnover margin (+1.36).
► The ‘Cats have four players averaging in double figures. Campbell not only leads the way at 18.0 ppg, but his 10.1 rebounds per game leaves him averaging a double-double. Other scoring leaders include Kenny Kaminski (13.3 ppg), Jordan Dartis (12.6 ppg) and Jaaron Simmons (12.1 ppg).
► Two players have at least 34 made 3-pointers: Jordan Dartis (35) and Kaminski (34).