MAC Hoops Power Rankings 2-16-09 Print E-mail
Written by J. Scott Fitzwater   
Monday, February 16 2009
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Image The West refused to go quietly into that good night, rising up and sweeping Sunday's three games. All of a sudden, uncertainty creeps into the East's top teams where none resided a few days ago. This much is clear: The East Division and the regular season championship are absolutely up for grabs, with five teams with reasonable shots at the title. At this point, the BracketBusters games seem almost like an inconvenient distraction.

It's going to be a wild ride. Buckle up.

1 Buffalo (17-6, 9-2 MAC) Last week: 1

The Bulls got their margin of error back with all other contenders suffering a loss this week as well. Their shooting has turned inconsistent; UB's effective field goal percentage has ranged from the 30s to the 50s in the West Division portion of the schedule. The defense, though, has gone up a notch. Buffalo has kept its opposition below 1 point per defensive possession more often than not lately. What has kept them on top is their balance. Six different players have led Buffalo in scoring and five have led them in rebounding in the 11 conference games. That balance makes it difficult for teams to key on any one man.

This week: Bowling Green (Wednesday), @Vermont (Saturday)

2 Miami  (15-8, 8-3 MAC) Last week: 2

Like Buffalo, the RedHawks are breathing easier after Sunday's games. Someone who might want to not relax, however, is Michael Bramos. An early favorite for Player of the Year, Bramos has struggled mightily, shooting 37.4% from the field in MAC play, only 25% from three-point land. As someone Miami depends upon to ignite the offense, Bramos must raise his level of play. Ironically enough, his best performance in some time came against Central Michigan, a game Miami lost.

This week: @Akron (Wednesday), @Evansville (Saturday)

3 Kent State (14-11, 7-4 MAC) Last week: 6

It's been a long, hard road for the Golden Flashes, but they've clawed and scraped their way back up the rankings. As always, they're doing it with defense, smothering their opposition. They're shooting the ball better recently as well, sporting effective goal percentages better than 50% in four of the last five contests. Tyree Evans is settling in, shooting 53% from the field and 54% from three in those same five games.

This week: Ohio (Tuesday), Morehead State (Saturday)

4 Ball State (11-12, 6-5 MAC) Last week: 4

The Cardinals managed the upset of Buffalo despite yet another poor offensive performance. Ball State would be a very dangerous team if they were equipped with more offensive weapons. Still, they are well-positioned to win the West Division.

This week: @Toledo (Wednesday), Tennessee Tech (Saturday)

5 Akron (16-9, 7-4 MAC) Last week: 3

Zips fans would probably be fine not seeing a Northern Illinois uniform for a while. While he has no business shooting as many three-point attempts (2.44 per game) as he does, Chris McKnight has been burning the net lately, shooting 55.8% in two-point attempts since a Feb. 7 performance against Youngstown State.

This week: Miami (Wednesday), @Valparaiso (Saturday)

6 Bowling Green (14-10, 7-4 MAC) Last week: 5

Losing to Eastern Michigan at home was baffling. That is the kind of loss that will take the wind out of the sails of a team that had previously won six straight, especially after getting a win at rival Toledo. If the Falcons are playing on Tuesday in Cleveland, they're going to look at this loss long and hard.

This week: @Buffalo (Wednesday), Canisius (Saturday)

7 Western Michigan (8-16, 5-6 MAC) Last week: 8

Inserting LaMarcus Lowe into the starting lineup didn't yield much in the way of direct results. It's unlikely there's much Steve Hawkins can do but to ride the season out. Just a miserable performance for the Broncos at Millett Hall Sunday. Each of WMU's last six opponents have had no problem scoring; limiting Ohio to 1.021 D-PPP was the best they could manage during that stretch.

This week: Eastern Michigan (Wednesday), Eastern Illinois (Saturday)

8 Ohio (13-11, 6-5 MAC) Last week: 7

The Bobcats retreat into the relatively safe shelter of East play, where they fared somewhat better (3-2) than they did against the West (3-3). 1.50 points per weighted shot against Toledo is an eye-popping number. It has become clear Ohio likes the game played at a faster pace; they are 3-0 in games in which they have at least 70 possessions and 2-4 in which they get less than 65.

This week: @Kent State (Tuesday), @Eastern Kentucky (Saturday)

9 Central Michigan (7-16, 4-7 MAC) Last week: 9

The Chippewas have suddenly turned into a tough out. Since getting blasted in Akron, CMU beat Miami and has been close in three losses. Marcus Van found another level in his game, shooting 60.7% from the field, 77.7% from the free throw line and pulling down four offensive rebounds in each of the last three games. The Chips are poised to make some noise in the stretch and may give a higher seed fits in Cleveland.

This week: Northern Illinois (Wednesday), Fairleigh Dickinson (Saturday)

10 Northern Illinois (7-16, 3-8 MAC) Last week: 10

The same team previously called out as the worst foul shooting squad in the country was able to hit the charity tosses down the stretch to slay Akron for a second straight time. The gutsy win was all the more surprising after they handed Kent State the game on a silver platter last Tuesday. NIU is the fastest team in the conference (68.2. possessions per 40 minutes in conference play and 71.4 overall), a fact which they showed last week. They're not the most efficient team by any means, but keeping the throttle at full is a better strategy than allowing themselves to get slowed down.

This week: @Central Michigan (Wednesday), @Southeast Missouri (Saturday)

11 Eastern Michigan (4-21, 2-9 MAC) Last week: 12

A hand for the Eagles, who have managed to crawl out of the basement at last. If only they could shoot 53% from three on the road every time, right?

This week: @Western Michigan (Wednesday), Georgia State (Saturday)

12 Toledo (4-21, 2-9 MAC) Last week: 11

Perhaps it was inevitable, given the Rockets' complete lack of anything resembling competitiveness lately, save for the Bowling Green game. Tyrone Kent has turned into a non-entity and was seen arguing with coach Gene Cross during Saturday's loss at Ohio. Jonathan Amos, on the other hand, had himself a very fine week (53 points, 17 rebounds).

This week: Ball State (Wednesday), @Indiana State (Saturday)

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