MID AMERICAN CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. AKRON. The Zips are one of the most talented and experienced teams in the league this year. Four starters are back from last years team, which won 21 games and finished just one game out of first place in the East Division. Romeo Travis is a very strong post player who can score, rebound and dish the ball. Guards Nick Dials and Dru Joyce also averaged in double figures a year ago. Joyce is also very good at distributing the basketball. This is definitely the team to beat in the MAC. If they have a weakness its in their frontcourt, but they still look pretty good overall.
-2. MIAMI, OH. The Redhawks didnt appear to have a lot of experience last year, but that didnt stop them from going 18-10 and winning nine of their last ten before losing in the conference tournament. They lost three starters, including guard William Hatcher, but dont expect them to fall off the face of the earth. They will still end up toward the top of the standings. Forwards Tim Pollitz and Nathan Peavy return to the starting lineup. Both are good scorers and rebounders. Miami is known for their strong defense and this year will be no different. They are a little in experienced on the perimeter, but I still look for them to have a good year.
-3. OHIO. The Bobcats had extremely high expectations last year not just for the conference, but on the national scene. They underachieved big time and to make things worse their starting point guard left the team before the season was over. Still, they once again appear to have a talented team and if they can come together and play as a team they can compete with anyone in this league. Three starters are back from a year ago, including forward Leon Williams, who averaged 11.8ppg and 6.9rpg last season. Whitney Davis came off the bench last year, but proved to be a good scorer and defender. He will likely step into the starting lineup this year. This is a team that also gets good play out of their bench. The potential is definitely there, but then again, it was there a year ago as well.
-4. BUFFALO. The Bulls got off to a roaring start last year, but it was mostly against weak competition and they couldnt keep winning at the same rate once they got into conference play. There are a lot more questions than answers when it comes to this years team. Guards Calvin Cage and Roderick Middleton are both gone, and that is a problem because this is a team that has relied so much on their perimeter play the past few years. Forward Yassin Idbihi
is back and they will really be looking to him for leadership. Other than that players who werent major contributors last year will be asked to step up this year if Buffalo wants to continue their success.
-5. KENT STATE. The Golden Flashes were last years division and conference tournament champions. They lost three starters from last years team, including their top two players, so it will be difficult for them to be as good as they were a year ago. Theyll still be very competitive, but perhaps not at the very top. Forward Haminn Quaintance, who sat out last year after transferring, is eligible this year and they will look to him to be an impact player. Guard Omni Smith came off the bench last year, but he saw significant minutes, averaged 8ppg, and could distribute the ball well. Forward Mike Scott and Guard Armon Gates also return to the starting lineup.
-6. BOWLING GREEN. The Falcons had a dismal finish to last years season. They lost 11 of their last 12 and although three starters are back, including guard Martin Samarco (18.9ppg), they need to address a lot if they want to compete for the league title. They really had no inside presence last year and they appear to be very thin underneath once again this year. If they cant turn it around it could be the end of coach Dan Dakich.
-1. TOLEDO. Expectations were high for the Rockets last year, but they got off to a very unimpressive start. In the latter part of the season they really caught fire though. They won ten of their last eleven games before losing to Kent State in the conference championship game. This year they have four starters returning to the lineup and could be one of the better teams in the conference, especially in the West Division. Guard Justin Ingram averaged 14.9ppg last year and did a good job distributing the ball as well. They have a pretty good frontcourt with forwards Florentino Valencia and Keonta Howell, who both averaged double figures and rebounded well last year. They dont have a lot of size underneath, but they are still able to produce.
-2. BALL STATE. The Cardinals really struggled last season, but could really surprise a lot of people this year. Four starters are back, including forward Skip Mills (18.6ppg) who is a terrific scorer and rebounder. Guard Peyton Stovall, who averaged 15ppg last year returns to the lineup as well. The experience and talent is definitely there for a drastic improvement from last season. They also have a new head coach and if the players can adjust to him this could be a very dangerous team.
-3. NORTHERN ILLINOIS. The Huskies are faced with the dilemma of how to replace two very good guards. They win the division a year ago and should once again be a force in the West, but they do have some holes in their lineup that they need to fill. One of them is not at center. James Hughes
can score, rebound and play defense as well as any big man in the league. Mike McKinney also returns to the starting lineup at the guard position and they will really look to him to contribute as well.
-4. WESTERN MICHIGAN. After two outstanding seasons in the MAC, the Broncos had a step back last season when they finished just 10-8 in league play. They appear to have a lot of talent this year, but they are also young and undeveloped. They do not have an experienced or proven back court at all and that appears to be their biggest weakness. They are very strong underneath though. Center Joe Reitz averaged 15.5ppg last year and was an excellent rebounder as well. Forward Andrew Hershberger is also a good scorer and rebounder. If someone can step up at guard look for the Broncos to win a lot of games. If not, they will struggle to improve from where they ended up last year.
-5. EASTERN MICHIGAN. The Eagles began last season with a big upset win over California, but never really did anything all that impressive after that. They won just three conference games and only seven overall. They do have four starters returning, one of which is Carolos Medlock who is a pretty good guard, but they still dont appear to be all that talented and will likely be overwhelmed by a lot of the teams in the league.
-6. CENTRAL MICHIGAN. The Chippewas won just three games last year and were among the worst teams in all of college basketball. Sefton Barrett is an excellent all around player who averaged 13.6ppg, rebounded well, and distributed the ball well. Guard Gordian Watson also averaged in double figures last year. All five starters are back, but when a team only wins three games is that really a good thing??
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
1. Miami, OH
2. Kent State
4. Bowling Green
1. Ball State
3. Northern Illinois
4. Central Michigan
5. Western Michigan
6. Eastern Michigan
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.