MAC Basketball Roundup: Bringing The Heat Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Tuesday, January 29 2008
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ImageConference play has certainly heated up in the Mid-American Conference in the past week with the first round of divisional crossovers in the books but not before possibly one of the best rivalries in college hoops also saw an increase in the temperature level. We have all the latest news, stats and information on MAC hoops right here.

East vs. West

The prevailing wisdom heading into the first round of divisional crossover games was that the MAC West would essentially be steamrolled by the far superior teams of the MAC East. Even some of the MAC's coaches assumed as much if you were to go by the comments of
Ohio head coach Tim O'Shea who had earlier bemoaned the scheduling disadvantage of the MAC East teams having to play each other twice while the West had the supposed luxury of only one run through the MAC East.

To be fair, we pretty much shared those opinions. After all, heading into crossover play, only one team in the West had a winning record (Western Michigan at 10-8) while the MAC East was home to three teams with twelve or more wins (Akron, Kent State and Ohio), including some nice out of conference performances.

So much for prevailing wisdom as the first round of games between the divisions only proved one thing and it was something we knew all along, namely that winning on the road in the MAC is one tough proposition.

While the MAC East won four of the first six contests, more tellingly, home teams were 6-0. But even in those wins, there were indications that the competition level between the two divisions is far closer than the so-called experts may have suspected.

Ball State, with only three wins on the season, traveled to Athens and gave Ohio a scare for 58 minutes before falling 61-59 while East power Akron succumbed on the road at Rose Arena to Central Michigan, 65-64. A battle of the division leaders also went down to the final two minutes before Kent State rallied for a 67-58 win over Western Michigan. Meanwhile, Toledo, Miami and Bowling Green all held serve on their home courts.

The East may still prove to be the top dog out of the two divisions, but it does not appear that the West is ready to roll over and play dead.

Upon Further Review...
We won't rehash the entire sequence of events following the conclusion of the hotly contested battle between Akron and Kent State January 23 when the Flashes downed the Zips 75-69 in their first-place showdown in Kent. Suffice at this point to state that tempers flared, players over-reacted and the hyper-charged crowd even got into the act a bit. The only question remaining following conclusion of the contest was whether the conference would issue any further penalties in the form or suspensions.

Following the contest MAC officials reviewed the game tapes, focusing particularly on the skirmish that occurred near the end of the game. MAC Associate Commissioner Rick Boyages told us that the review revealed that no further action would be required by the league. "There was some pushing and shoving but nothing that rose above a technical foul," noted Boyages who indicated that the on-court officials made the correct calls in the matter and no further action was required by the conference.

The March 9 rematch between the two rivals may be the most anticipated contest in the MAC in quite some time. Let's hope though that cooler heads prevail in the rematch at the JAR in Akron.

Singletary Suspended Again
While having nothing to do with the aftermath of the Kent State-Akron showdown, one player from Kent State nonetheless found himself suspended for the Golden Flashes next contest against Western Michigan on January 27.

ksu_singletary_small.jpgTalented but troubled sophomore guard Chris Singletary sat out the Golden Flashes' 67-58 win after he was suspended for a minimum of one game following his arrest for Driving Under the Influence in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 26. It was the second suspension this season for Singletary, a member of the All-MAC Freshman team last season.

Earlier this season Singletary served a suspension for violation of team rules. Singletary also served a brief suspension last season related to academic matters. At the time of his most recent suspension, Singletary was third in the MAC in field goal percentage (.586) and second in steals (2.06 per game). Since the start of MAC play, Singletary has averaged 13 points per game.

It is not known if Singletary will suit up for Kent State's next contest at Eastern Michigan however Golden Flashes head coach Jim Christian has indicated that he will travel with the team to Ypsilanti. The school's guidelines indicate that a misdemeanor automatically results in a one-game suspension.

Singletary was stopped by local law enforcement officials after he was spotted driving erratically. The 19-year old failed a field sobriety test and registered a 0.13 blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer test. Sources indicate that Singletary received some very bad news from home regarding one of his friends and proceeded to head to the bar.

An official statement issued on Singletary's behalf by the school stated:

''I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, the fans and to the administration at Kent State for my actions over the weekend. I let all of you - and myself - down. There is a lot going on in my personal life, which I let affect my judgment in a negative manner, and I am truly sorry that my actions have cast a negative light on the program. I would ask for your understanding as I deal with these very difficult issues off the court.''

Kent State Athletic Director Laing Kennedy stated "We fully support Chris as he goes through this difficult time and we look forward to him rejoining the team in the near future."

Singletary was scheduled for a court appearance on January 29.

Readers See Only One Bid in MAC's Future
The Mid-American Conference has not received multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament since the 1998-1999 season and if MAC Report Online's readers are correct, the 2007-2008 season will be no different.

According to our latest online poll, nearly two-thirds of respondents to the question "Will The MAC Receive More Than One NCAA Bid This Season?" believe that the MAC will again have only, with apologies to Ray Mernagh, "one chance to dance." The final tally was 64% "no" with 36% answering "yes."

This week our poll question asks what is the top basketball rivalry in the MAC. To vote in this week's poll click the box labeled "Polls" in the top right hand corner of this page.

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

For games played through January 27, 2008, the MAC has two schools (Kent State and Ohio) currently ranked within the Top 65 in RPI. Miami currently has the nation's third-toughest schedule.

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

Kent State
Central Michigan
Western Michigan
Bowling Green
Eastern Michigan
Northern Illinois
Ball State
Overall the MAC is currently ranked 13th in RPI and 4th in non-conference SOS out of 31 conferences.

The Latest Polls
Kent State moved up to seventh in the latest Mid-Major Top 25 Coaches Poll after posting wins this past week over Akron and Western Michigan while Akron dropped five spots to 10th. Ohio maintained its spot at number 21 in the poll. The Golden Flashes also received two votes in the latest USA Today coaches poll.

Also be sure to check out MAC Report Online's Jeffrey Fitzwater as he checks in with his weekly power rankings.

Players of the Week
The MAC announced its choices for players of the week for games played between January 22-28, 2008:

ou_williams_small.jpgMAC East Player of the Week:
Leon Williams, F, Ohio

For the third straight week, a member of the Ohio Bobcats was named MAC East Player of the Week. Senior forward Leon Williams notched his 35th career double-double, and eighth of the season, when he scored 23 points and pulled down 12 rebounds against Ball State. Earlier in the week Williams had ten points and nine rebounds in the Bobcats' victory over Buffalo as Williams averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds for the week while shooting 61% from the field.

wmu_kool_small.jpgMAC West Player of the Week:
David Kool, G, Western Michigan

Last year's MAC Freshman of the Year, David Kool, received his first MAC West Player of the Week honor this season after averaging 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game this past week for West Division leading Western Michigan. Kool registered 18 points and a pair of steals in the Broncos' win over Central Michigan and then came back with 21 points and four rebounds on the road at Kent State.

Around The MAC
**With Miami's 65-52 victory over Eastern Michigan on January 26, RedHawks' head coach Charlie Coles moved into second place all-time in the MAC with 177 conference victories. The win also meant Miami was able to avoid a 1-5 MAC start which would have been the RedHawks' worst start since joining the MAC.

**Speaking of rough starts, the Buffalo Bulls remain the only team winless in MAC play at 0-6 but it hasn't been for lack of trying. According to the latest release from the MAC, the Bulls have taken 1,114 shots thus far on the season, averaging 61.9 per game. The next closest squad is Northern Illinois which is averaging 56.7 field goal attempts per game.

**Northern Illinois continues to operate with a depleted roster. After the loss of guard Ryan Paradise, the Huskies lost the services of sophomore guard Cody Yelder and freshman forward Darrius Gaters to academics. Neither is expected to rejoin the team this season. Yelder has appeared in six games while Gaters has not played. The Huskies are also anxiously awaiting the return of swingman Ben Rand who is battling plantar fasciitis and freshman guard Jeremy Landers who is out with a pulled groin. 

**Ohio presents one of the more intimidating frontcourts in the MAC with Leon Williams and Jerome Tillman a handful for any defense but another player has stepped up that may require some attention as well. Since junior guard Bert Whittington IV, a JUCO transfer out of Ohlone Junior College in California, entered the starting rotation the Bobcats are 3-0 with Whittington averaging 20.7 points per game including a career-high 26 points in Ohio's 71-59 win over Kent State. Whittington is also shooting 49% from the field and 46% from three point range as a starter.

**Kent State is now 12-0 at home this season, matching its best home start since the 2001-2002 season.


 Toledo is 52-6 at Savage Hall since 2003
Photo: Andrew Weber

**With its recent losses to Kent State and Central Michigan, Akron recorded consecutive losses for the first time since the 2005-2006 season.

**Central Michigan continues to be among the most penalized teams in the nation. In fact, only one school is averaging more fouls per game than the Chippews whose average of 24.8 fouls per contest ranks them 327th out of 328 division one schools. On the other end of the spectrum, Ohio is the least whistled team in the MAC, being called for 16.6 fouls per game which ranks the Bobcats 49th nationally.

**Bowling Green, at 4-2 in the MAC, has already matched its conference win total from last season.

**Eastern Michigan junior point guard Carlos Medlock has been the mark of consistency over his career. Medlock has registered double figures in 45 of the 64 games he has appeared in for the Eagles and has led EMU in scoring 25 times during his tenure.

**Western Michigan senior center Joe Reitz recently became only the fifth player in MAC history to surpass 700 career free throws and only the ninth to register over 500 successful attempts. For his career Reitz is 500-716.

**Ball State junior forward Anthony Newell has registered double figures in scoring in 15 of his last 16 games dating back to last season.

**Toledo continues to enjoy its home cooking. The Rockets are 52-6 at Savage Hall since the 2003-2004 season and are 125-28 (.817) during head coach Stan Joplin's twelve years at the helm of the Rockets' program. Maybe the Rockets should reconsider renovating Savage Hall. Why disturb a good thing?

MAC Individual Statistical Leaders (through January 27, 2008)

Tyrone Kent
Tim Pollitz
Leon Williams
Giordan Watson
Central Michigan
Michael Bramos
Michael Allen
Michael Redell
Western Michigan
Nick Dials
Carlos Medlock
Eastern Michigan
Giordan Watson
Central Michigan
Leon Williams
Jeremiah Wood
Haminn Quaintance
Kent State
Jerome Tillman
Joe Reitz
Western Michigan
FG Pct.
Haminn Quaintance
Kent State
Leon Williams
Chris Singletary
Kent State
Quade Milum
Joe Reitz
Western Michigan
Free Throw Pct.
Bubba Walther
Nick Dials
Mike Scott
Kent State
David Kool
Western Michigan
Cedrick Middleton
3 Point FG Pct.
Rashad Woods
Kent State
Giordan Watson
Central Michigan
Justin Orr
Derek Drews
Western Michigan
David Kool
Western Michigan
Jonathan Amos
Chris Singletary
Kent State
Melvin Goins
Ball State
Haminn Quaintance
Kent State
Tyrone Kent

This Week's MAC Schedule

Tuesday, January 29
Western Michigan at Buffalo, 7:00 pm
Central Michigan at Ohio, 7:00 pm

Wednesday, January 30
Toledo at Akron, 7:00 pm
Bowling Green at Ball State, 7:00 pm
Kent State at Eastern Michigan, 7:00 pm
Miami at Northern Illinois, 7:00 pm

Saturday, February 2
Kent State at Toledo, Noon
Miami at Ball State, 2:00 pm
Ohio at Northern Illinois, 2:00 pm
Bowling Green at Western Michigan, 4:00 pm
Buffalo at Central Michigan, 6:30 pm
Eastern Michigan at Akron, 7:00 pm

Note: All times local

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