Quicken Loans Arena
Record: 24-6, 14-2
The Zips picked up their first Conference loss just over a week ago against one of the worst teams in the Conference in Buffalo. Things went from bad to worse when starting point guard Alex Abreu (10.3 PPG, 6.0 APG) was suspended indefinitely due to drug charges. They lost their first Game without him at home to Kent State. They had previously beaten Kent State on the road.
Without Abreu, they are no longer the frontrunners in the Conference even with the No. 1 seed. Akron already has two wins over their main competition in Ohio, but now will be underdogs. It’s an uphill battle for the Zips from here on out and their NCAA Tourney chances have taken a major dive.
Record: 23-8, 14-2
And just like that, the Bobcats are once again the favorites in the MAC. For how they finished last year in the Sweet 16, it’s been somewhat of a disappointing season as they struggled in out-of-Conference play. Ohio has all of their relevant players from last year’s squad back when they beat Michigan and South Florida in the Big Dance as a 13-seed. They ended up going down in their next Game, but it took overtime for the Tar Heels to advance.
Ohio actually finished 11-5 in Conference play last year and then ran the table in the Conference Tournament which they’ll have to do this year. Led by D.J. Cooper in his senior season, they are now the team to beat due to Akron’s misfortunes. Of course, also like last year, this is a team to watch out for if they can get on a roll.
Record: 19-12, 9-7
The Golden Flashes are coming in as one of the hottest teams in the Conference and they are only a Four seed. They are on a stretch of five straight wins which includes their most recent road win at Akron. This is a team with a pretty solid out-of-Conference Schedule, but they were unable to grab any big wins.
Kent State is led by seniors Chris Evans and Randal Holt who combine for 30 points per Game. Their likely first matchup in this Tournament will come against a Ball State squad they already beat by 14 on the road. A third matchup with Akron is likely and due to Abreu’s suspension, the Golden Flashes will have the edge in that matchup en route to the Championship.
Record: 19-11, 10-6
While the Broncos are the No. 3 seed, they haven’t really been playing that well and aren’t considered a major threat. They have lost two of their last three Games against very average squads. In their regular season finale, they barely got by Central Michigan at home.
If they can get by their quarterfinals match, Ohio awaits them in the semis. Back on Jan. 12, WMU fell to the hands of the Bobcats at home. Without a great offense it’s going to be hard for Western Michigan to make a dent in this Tournament.
Due to Abreu’s suspension, Ohio is the favorite to take this Tourney. With a veteran-laden squad that made a nice run last season, there’s no doubt they can make a repeat performance if they can grab the MAC Championship.