The 2011 Mid-American Conference Tournament will take place in Cleveland, OH from March 9-12. This is a fitting location as half of the conference’s 12 teams are located in the Buckeye State. This is without doubt a one bid Conference for the NCAA Tournament, so every team will be playing their hearts out for a chance to make the Big Dance.
Perhaps the most interesting team going into this Tournament are the Ohio Bobcats ( 17-13, 9-6) Their record isn’t the best, but they have been strong down the stretch. They own a win over likely East Division champ Kent State and they lost to Miami in overtime. Winners of 5 in a row, this team are led by G D.J. Cooper (16.2 PPG, 7.5 APG). The sophomore can be a prolific scorer, but is equally adept at getting the ball to his teammates. In the Bobcats win over Kent State he had a measly 10 points, but a whopping 14 assists! This is a dangerous team when you consider his talent and throw in senior F DeVaugn Washington (12.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
The Western Michigan Broncos (17-11, 8-5) are also a strong option. They won a close Game against Ohio 85-83 earlier this year and they also took down Miami on the road. The Broncos came up just short in a 2 point 74-72 loss to Kent State. Junior Flenard Whitfield (13.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG) is a key cog on offense. He had a double-double against Ohio going for 27 points and 11 assists. Junior G Demtrius Ward (14.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 4.1 RPG) is also important. His best Game of the year came when he put up 21 points in a victory over Miami. The Broncos must be considered and they could fly under the radar.
The heavyweight in this division is Kent State (20-10, 11-4). They have had hiccups down the stretch, but clearly they are the most consistent team in the MAC Tournament. The Golden Flashes beat Western Michigan and split Games with Miami and Ohio. This team will rely on junior F Justin Green (15.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG) for offensive production. He posted 26 points in his team’s season opening 73-72 win over Iona. That proved to be a good win as Iona is 20-10 at the time of this writing with a win over Richmond and a close loss to Syracuse. If Greene can finish the year like he started it the Golden Flashes could find themselves in the Big Dance for the sixth time in school history.
Looking to ride a hot team? Akron would be the one. They have won 7 of their last 8 Games heading into a March 4th Game with top dog Kent, who they beat once already this year. They are one of the hottest teams in the nation when you look at the regular season rating compared to the level they have been playing down the stretch. After winning 7 straight they were blown out by Ohio U the other night, so it will be interesting to see how they play against Kent State on Friday to end the year.