The 2020 Mid-American Conference tournament got underway tonight to much fanfare and even had a surprise along the way, so let’s get straight to the action.
#9 Central Michigan at #8 Ohio
The Chippewas and Bobcats spent most of the league mired in the middle of the MAC so this one on paper was close to a toss-up but with a slight edge leaning the Bobcats way. Ohio wasted no time in taking advantage of this slight edge and jumped on CMU right from the tip and never looked back. Within the first five minutes of play, the Bobcats had already opened up a double-digit lead and kept the pedal to the metal for the rest of the contest, winning by twenty, 85-65.
As a team, Ohio was feeling it tonight, shooting 57% from the floor and nearly 50% from deep. Sophomore, Ben Vander Plas, led the way for the green and white by getting a double-double (25 points and 10 rebounds) and was only three assists shy of a triple-double. Ohio will need to keep this momentum going as they will face #1 seed Akron next.
#12 Miami (OH) at #5 Buffalo
This one was the surprise of the night. Miami finished last in the conference and Buffalo was a team that many thought would make some noise in the MAC tournament, myself included. From the jump, this contest was a one or two-possession game and neither team could pull away from the other. That is until halftime when the Redhawks built a ten-point lead heading into the break.
However, the break did not serve the Redhawk well. Out of the locker room Miami was ice cold and only scored 2 points in the first five minutes of the 2nd half allowing Buffalo to creep back into the contest and even take a brief lead. Miami would eventually regain the lead after the under sixteen timeouts and keep the Bulls at bay for the rest of the contest. Miami was able to pull off the stunning 85-79 upset largely thanks to guarding Nike Sibande.
Sibande was 10 of 14 from the floor, 9 of 10 from the charity stripe and managed to dropped 31 en route to the Redhawks surprising victory. Miami will need Sibande to have a similar performance Thursday if they are going to pull off another upset when they face the #4 seed Northern Illinois.
#10 Western Michigan at #7 Toledo
This final of this one looks closer than it was. Toledo was able to hold off a late charge by the Broncos to win 76-73, but the Rockets were in control for most of the game by double digits. A good shooting night from outside, 40% from downtown, by the Rockets allowed them to keep a double-digit lead for most of the night.
Western Michigan’s Junior Michael Flowers, had a game-high 35 points but even that wasn’t good enough to take down Rockets. Flowers’ performance was outdone by the Toledo tandem of Willie Jackson and Marron Jackson who combined for 47 of the Rockets 76 points. Toledo will look to the Jackson’s to have a repeat performance if they are going to get by #2 seed Bowling Green next.
#11 Eastern Michigan at #6 Kent State
Despite having 18 turnovers the Golden Flashes were able to outlast Eastern Michigan by of score of 86-76 and will move on in the MAC tournament. Kent State was the statistically better team and their play reflected that in the end. The Golden Flashes asserted their dominance over the Eagles on the boards, outrebounding EMU by 14. All five starters for Kent State finished with double figures which is not easily done in today's college basketball landscape. The Golden Flashes were also good at sharing the ball tonight, ending the night with 21 assists on 30 made baskets. Tonight, it was an all-around complete offensive game for Kent State, which has to feel good since they will face the defensive-minded #3 seed Ball State on Thursday.
March 12, 2020, 12 pm
#8 Ohio vs #1 Akron
March 12, 2020, TBD (30 minutes after completion of #8 Ohio vs #1 Akron)
#12 Miami (OH) vs #4 Northern Illinois
March 12, 2020, 6:30 pm
#7 Toledo vs #2 Bowling Green
March 12, 2020, TBD (30 minutes after completion of #7 Toledo vs #2 Bowling Green)
#6 Kent State vs #3 Ball State