The Zips also garnered 15 votes to win the MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. Ten of the league's top men's basketball players were also selected to the preseason All-MAC teams for the East and West Divisions as announced by the league office.
Under coach Keith Dambrot, the Zips . . .
The Zips finished the 2015-16 campaign with a 26-9 overall record, including a 13-5 league mark and an undefeated 15-0 showing at James A. Rhodes Arena. Thanks to the best start to a season in program history, Akron tied the school record for wins in a season (26) and set program records in 3-point FG made (409) and attempted (1,069) in a season, as well as, made (20) and attempted (43) in a game.
The Zips were followed in the East Division preseason predictions by Ohio, while Buffalo was selected to finish third and Kent State fourth. Bowling Green was tabbed to finish fifth and Miami sixth to round out this year's selections. Akron received 15 first place votes when it came to picking who would win the East crown, while the Bobcats received 16 first place votes.
In addition to the reigning rebounding champion and MAC Freshman of the Year in James Thompson, Eastern Michigan returns a plethora of talent to its lineup. Redshirt senior Ray Lee returns for his final season donning the Green and White. Lee is the active leading scorer in the Mid-American Conference with 1,418 career points, a total which ranks 15th all-time in EMU laurels.
The Green and White bring back its top-four scorers from a year ago and lose just one of its top-six point getters. Lee (15.1 ppg) leads the way, while Thomspon (14.8 ppg), Willie Mangum IV (12 ppg) and Ty Toney (11 ppg) each make their return to the squad. Additionally, Tim Bond returns to the lineup after posting 8.8 points per contest. In total, the Eagles bring back 60.7 points per game from a year ago, which is good for 78.4 percent of last season's offensive output.
Ball State followed Eastern Michigan in the preseason rankings in second, while Northern Illinois was selected to finish third. Toledo was picked to place fourth, while Western Michigan and Central Michigan rounded out the West Division selections.
The West Division Preseason All-MAC representatives are Ball State’s Franko House, Eastern Michigan’s Thompson, NIU’s Marin Maric, Toledo’s Jonathan Williams and Western Michigan’s Thomas Wilder.
The East Division All-MAC squad is comprised of Akron’s Isaiah Johnson, Buffalo’s Blake Hamilton, Kent State’s Jimmy Hall and Ohio teammates Antonio Campbell & Jaaron Simmons.
The MAC regular season gets underway on Friday, November 11 as eight MAC programs take the hardwood. Conference action begins on Tuesday, January 3 as teams will start to fight for position in the MAC Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place on March 8-11 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Akron (15 first place votes) – 194 points
2. Ohio (16) – 190 points
3. Buffalo (5) – 144 points
4. Kent State – 116 points
5. Bowling Green – 63 points
6. Miami – 49 points
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Eastern Michigan (16 first place votes) – 178 points
2. Ball State (12) – 158 points
3. NIU (5) – 148 points
4. Toledo (1) – 100 points
5. Western Michigan – 95 points
6. Central Michigan (2) – 77 points
2017 MAC Tournament Predicted Champion: Akron (15), Ohio (11), Eastern Michigan (3), Buffalo (2), NIU (2), Central Michigan (1), Kent State (1), Miami (1).
Preseason All-MAC East Division Team
Isaiah Johnson, Sr., C, Akron
Blake Hamilton, Sr., W, Buffalo
Jimmy Hall, Sr., F, Kent State
Antonio Campbell, Sr., F, Ohio
Jaaron Simmons, Jr., G, Ohio
Preseason All-MAC West Division Team
Franko House, Sr., F, Ball State
James Thompson IV, So., F/C, Eastern Michigan
Marin Maric, Sr., C, Northern Illinois
Jonathan Williams, Sr., G, Toledo
Thomas Wilder, Jr., G, Western Michigan