MAC Hoopla: MAC Continues Strong Non-Conference Play Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Wednesday, December 19 2007
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Miami Guard Kenny Hayes
The past week of non-conference play for Mid-American Conference squads certainly had its share of ups and downs but the MAC overall continued its solid non-conference play, defeating teams from the Missouri Valley Conference, ACC and the Big Ten. But there were a couple of heartbreaks along the way as the MAC continues to struggle against the Horizon League. Go figure.

Let's take a quick review of some of this past week's notable action.

Coast to Coast 'Cats
The Ohio Bobcats started things off last week with a solid non-conference road win.

ohio_williams_dunk.jpgLed by Leon Williams (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Jerome Tillman (20 points), the Bobcats came away with a victory at one of the toughest places in the nation for a visiting team, defeating Maryland 61-55. How difficult has the Comcast Center been on visitors during Maryland head coach Gary Williams' tenure? The Bobcats handed Maryland only their third non-conference home game defeat in the past 134 contests on Maryland's home court. The Bobcats led wire to wire but soon found themselves on the other end of another wire-to-wire affair.

Just three days later the Bobcats found themselves facing third-ranked Kansas in Kansas City and found themselves on the short end of a 88-51 decision. The Bobcats never led in the game.

Just as there was little time to celebrate their win over the Terrapins, there is little time for the traveling Bobcats to lament their loss to Kansas. The Bobcats continue their long road trip with a round of games in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu and will face St. John's in the opening round and will play twice more in Hawaii before heading home for Christmas.

Central Michigan started the season 0-5 but has rebounded with four straight wins. Among the Chips' victories during their current upswing was a win at Michigan, the first win of the season for the MAC over a Big Ten squad.

The Chips upended Michigan 78-67 at Crisler Arena and were led by point guard Giordan Watson's 22 points while newcomers, freshman guard Jeremy Allen and JUCO transfer Nate Minnoy, each chipped in eleven points. If you believe in foreshadowing then Saturday's game may be a good omen for the Chips.

The last two times CMU defeated a Big Ten squad, they went on to win the MAC championship (2001 and 2003).

Heartbreak City on the Horizon
It wasn't all good news though for the MAC this past week and two squads, Miami and Northern Illinois, suffered heartbreaking losses.

The RedHawks, for the second time this season, led a huge lead slip away only to fall in the end. Earlier in the season Miami let a 21 point lead get away at home against Dayton and let the Flyers escaped with a 62-61 win. On the road at Wright State, it was Déjà vu.

Miami held a solid 44-28 halftime lead over host Wright State this past Saturday only to once again surrender a large lead. The game was decided when Wright State's Todd Brown hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to down Miami 58-57.

Miami though may have suffered a bigger blow when MAC leading scorer Michael Bramos went down with a sprained ankle with six minutes left in the game. Bramos returned but did not play in the RedHawks' next game, a 74-68 win over Chicago State. His status will be evaluated on a game-by-game basis.

But the heartbreak wasn't limited to Miami as Northern Illinois also fell after leading late. The Huskies, who are still developing under new head coach Ricardo Patton, appeared to have matters in hand against Loyola but a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Loyola's J.R. Blount tied the game and the visiting Huskies went down to defeat in overtime, 76-72.

The two losses to Horizon League foes dropped the MAC's record against the Horizon League to 4-9 this season.

Downing The Valley
While the MAC inexplicably continues to struggle against the Horizon League, they have held their own against the wmu_reitz_small.jpgMissouri Valley Conference and are 6-6 so far this season against the Valley, a conference that has significantly raised its profile and whose success was the catalyst for much of the stepped-up non-conference scheduling across the MAC this season.

Western Michigan scored the MAC's latest win over the Valley with a 57-41 defeat of preseason MVC favorite Southern Illinois as Joe Reitz had a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds) while shutting down last season's MVC player of the year, Randal Falker, who was held to nine points.

Tracking the RPI and SOS
Checking in on the latest numbers...

For games played through December 18, 2007, the MAC has five schools currently ranked in the Top 100 in RPI and four in the Top 65. Toledo continues to have the toughest schedule in the nation, as the Rockets come in number one in strength of schedule.

Below is the breakdown of each MAC squad's RPI and Strength of Schedule (SOS):

Kent State
Central Michigan
Western Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Bowling Green
Northern Illinois
Ball State
Overall the MAC is currently ranked 12th in RPI and 7th in SOS.

Falcons Fallout
The Bowling Green Falcons started the season fast at 3-1 but have recently slumped, losing four of their last five

and now the Falcons will be without their leading scorer for the foreseeable future.

Already without junior power forward Erik Marschall, who is sidelined following knee surgery in November, the Falcons will likely be without the services of senior guard Ryne Hamblet. Hamblet has been suspended indefinitely for the ubiquitous "violation of team rules" by Falcons head coach Louis Orr. Orr has indicated that Hamblet may be out for awhile too.

"It's something that's going to take some time to see how things work out," Orr told the Toledo Blade recently about Hamblet's suspension. "It's unfortunate, but we're trying to lay the foundation and we need everybody on the same page."

Hamblet was averaging a team-leading 12.6 points per game at the time of his suspension.

Players of the Week
The MAC announced its choices for players of the week for games played between December 11-17, 2007:

MAC East Player of the Week:
akron_linhart_small.jpgNate Linhart, F, Akron
Linhart scored a season-high 14 points, all in the second half, to lead Akron to a 64-55 win over Austin Peay on Saturday, December 15. Starting for the third time this season, Linhart went 4-6 from the field which included 3-5 from three point range. Linhart also went 3-4 from the charity stripe and had an assist and a steal while playing a season-high 29 minutes.

MAC West Player of the Week:
cmu_watson_small.jpgGiordan Watson, G, Central Michigan
Watson keyed Central Michigan's victory over Michigan on Saturday, December 15 with a game-high 22 points. Watson also recorded four assists and three steals. Fifteen of his points came in the second half as CMU never trailed in the second stanza. The victory was CMU's first over a Big Ten team since defeating Michigan in 2003.

Short Jumpers...
ohio_oshea_100.jpg**Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea is now 3-0 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference following Ohio's 61-55 win over Maryland. His other wins came against North Carolina and Virginia.

**Ball State remains the MAC's only winless team. The Cardinals are 0-9 following their latest loss, a 57-47 setback at Arkansas State. Going back to last season, the Cardinals have lost 15 straight games, a school record. The Cardinals are one of only four winless teams in Division 1.

**Central Michigan guard Giordan Watson moved up to fifth on the Chippewas' career scoring list. Watson now has accumulated 1,408 career points and also ranks in the top five all-time at CMU in assists and steals.

MAC Individual Statistical Leaders (through
December 17, 2007)

Michael Bramos
Tyrone Kent
Giordan Watson
Central Michigan
Tim Pollitz
Leon Williams
Ryne Hamblet
Bowling Green
Carlos Medlock
Eastern Michigan
Michael Allen
Michael Redell
Western Michigan
Al Fisher
Kent State
Leon Williams
Jeremiah Wood
Jerome Tillman
Chris Knight
Bowling Green
Joe Reitz
Western Michigan
FG Pct.
Justin Orr
Leon Williams
Quade Milum
Joe Reitz
Western Michigan
Hamin Quaintance
Kent State
Free Throw Pct.
David Kool
Western Michigan
Bubba Walther
Ryne Hamblet
Bowling Green
Mike Scott
Kent State
Nick Dials
3 Point FG Pct.
Justin Orr
Rashad Woods
Kent State
Giordan Watson
Central Michigan
Derek Drews
Western Michigan
Jesse Bunkley
Eastern Michigan
Jonathan Amos
Melvin Goins
Ball State
Hamin Quaintance
Kent State
Nate Miller
Bowling Green
Tyrone Kent

This Week's MAC Schedule

Wednesday, December 19
Ohio vs. St. John's, 5:00 pm (Rainbow Classic - Honolulu)
North Carolina A&T at Akron, 7:00 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at Ball State, 7:00 pm
Central Michigan at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 7:00 pm
Toledo at Illinois-Chicago, 7:00 pm

Thursday, December 20
IPFW at Kent State, 7:00 pm
Miami at Illinois, 7:00 pm

Friday, December 21
Youngstown State at Akron, 8:00 pm
Buffalo vs. Wyoming, 11:00 pm (State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament - El Paso, TX).
Ohio vs. TBD (Rainbow Classic - Honolulu)

Saturday, December 22
Miami at Kansas, 1:00 pm
Central Michigan at Cleveland State, 1:00 pm
Eastern Michigan at Temple, 1:00 pm
Illinois State at Ball State, 2:00 pm
Northern Illinois at Wisconsin-Green Bay, 2:00 pm
Western Michigan at Iowa, 2:00 pm
Bowling Green at Indiana State, 2:00 pm
Buffalo vs. USC Upstate or UTEP (State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament - El Paso, TX)
Ohio vs. TBD (Rainbow Classic - Honolulu)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, December 19 2007 )
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