Friday, October 30, 2009

Mid-American Conference Preview


Last season, the Mid-American Conference did not have as good of a season as it is used to, when at least one or two teams seems to be in the mix for an at-large bid. However, it did feature one of the most exciting conference races in the country, with five teams finishing within one game of each other at the top of the East Division standings. On the final day of the season, Buffalo beat Miami (Ohio), Kent State beat Akron and Bowling Green defeated Ohio, leaving Buffalo and BGSU tied atop the division at 11-5. Ball State, Western Michigan and Central Michigan tied for the West Division title at 7-9. Akron eked out the automatic bid, and then gave Gonzaga a very tough game in the first round before falling. This season, several key players are gone from every team, leaving a wide-open conference race ahead.

East Division
1. Akron: The Zips should be a force this season, behind the return of the McKnight brothers, Chris and Brett, and the arrival of freshman Zeke Marshall.
2. Buffalo: Rodney Pierce is one of the league's top players, and Calvin Betts is a solid wing for the Bulls, who fell just short of an auto bid last year.
3. Kent State: Consistently one of the best mid-majors, the Golden Flashes have some work to do to get back to the top of the conference.
4. Ohio: If Indiana transfer Armon Bassett makes as big of an impact as expected, the Bobcats could be a sleeper in the Mid-American.
5. Miami (Ohio): Although they return injured guard Kenny Hayes, the RedHawks need several role players to step up and help him.
6. Bowling Green: The Falcons finished tied for first last season, but they lose three starters and could fall all the way to the division cellar.

West Division
1. Central Michigan: With Chris Kellerman coming back from injury, and Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman in the backcourt, the Chippewas will be tough.
2. Eastern Michigan: The Eagles return four starters, including Brandon Bowdry, and regain the services of injured star Carlos Medlock.
3. Northern Illinois: The Huskies might have the best wing duo in the league in Darion Anderson and Colorado transfer Xavier Silas.
4. Ball State: Despite finishing below .500, the Cardinals were tied for first in the division; Jarrod Jones could be primed for a breakout season.
5. Western Michigan: The Broncos won only 10 games last season, but also tied for the division title. David Kool could be MAC Player of the Year.
6. Toledo: The Rockets went 7-25 a season ago, and lose three starters from that group; Justin Anyijong is the leading returnee.

Player of the Year: David Kool, G, Western Michigan

All-Conference Team:
G- David Kool, Western Michigan 
G- Darion Anderson, Northern Illinois
G- Rodney Pierce, Buffalo 
F- Kenny Hayes, Miami (Ohio)
F- Brandon Bowdry, Eastern Michigan

Second Team:
G- Chris Singletary, Kent State
G- Carlos Medlock, Eastern Michigan
G- Armon Bassett, Ohio
F- Jarrod Jones, Ball State
F- Brett McKnight, Akron 

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