CLEVELAND, Ohio – While all eyes are on the top 4 seeds of Akron, Ohio, Buffalo and Ball St, this year’s MAC Championship Tournament boasts several dark horses that could easily become a Cinderella story this weekend in Cleveland.
Let’s take a look at four that could pull off the upset!
Team Descriptions provided by
Jeremy Guy Assistant Commissioner for Communications & Social Media Mid-American Conference
Eastern Michigan: Eighth-seeded Eastern Michigan enters the postseason with a 15-16 overall record, including a 7-11 mark in Mid-American Conference play. The Eagles are 9-6 at home this season. Willie Mangum IV leads four players scoring in double figures for Eastern Michigan at 16.0 points per game. Ray Lee averages 15.5 points per contest while James Thompson IV averages 14.5 points and Ty Toney scores 10.1 points per game. Eastern Michigan leads the MAC with 4.5 blocks per game. The Eagles also lead the conference with 9.8 steals per contest and with a +4.3 turnover margin.
Kent State: The Golden Flashes finished fourth in the MAC East with a 10-8 conference record, behind the MAC Tournament’s top three seeds, Akron, Ohio and Buffalo. Kent State’s hallmark is rebounding, as the Golden Flashes rank No. 2 in the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game (15.3), No. 6 in total rebounds per game (40.6) and No. 7 in total rebounds (1,260). Jimmy Hall is a dominant inside force for Kent State, ranking third in the MAC in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and fifth in scoring (18.2 ppg). Jaylin Walker scores 15.0 points per game and leads KSU in 3-pointers by a wide margin with 73.
Western Michigan: The Broncos finished the regular season 15-15 overall and 11-7 in the MAC. When they traveled to Oxford for their game against the RedHawks on Feb. 4, they were struggling along at 7-15 overall and in 11th place in the MAC at 3-7. Their victory over Miami was the beginning of an eight-game winning streak that propelled them to a share of the MAC West Division title and the fifth overall seed. Western Michigan is led by junior guard Thomas Wilder, who averages 19.2 points per game. Also in double figures is senior forward Tucker Haymond, who averages 15.0 points per contest.
Toledo: The Rockets enter the MAC Tournament with an overall record of 16-15. Toledo went an even 9-9 in conference play. A high-octane offense, Toledo averaged 79.5 points per game in 2016-17, which ranked second in the league. UT shot a conference-high 48.3 percent from the field, but also allowed its opponents to shoot 46.0 percent – third worst in the MAC. Senior guard Jonathan Williams ranks third in the conference in scoring (19.7). Fellow senior Steve Taylor Jr., a forward, currently sits first in the league in rebounding (12.5) and 11th in scoring (15.6).