Sunday, January 15, 2006

MAC Nightcap: BGSU is showing signs of life

[More guest blogging at Hoops Junkie. I'll be back with some non-hoops related posting soon...]

Despite a 33% shooting night and a 3-21 performance by leading scorer Martin Samarco, Bowling Green held the homecourt against rival Toledo in the only MAC action of the day and kept themselves in a tie with Buffalo (but 2 wins behind the frontrunners) early in the MAC East race. Toledo shot a similarly frigid 39%, but the biggest difference came from the foul line, with the Falcons shooting 20-of-24 compared to Toledo's lackluster 11 of 19 effort. With the loss, Toledo has thrown itself into the mix with 5 other teams trying to jockey for position behind division leading NIU. The standings are as follows:

East

Miami (Oh.) 5 - 0 (8 - 5) W4 -
Ohio 4 - 0 (10 - 2) W4 ½
Akron 4 - 0 (10 - 3) W5 ½
Kent State 4 - 0 (10 - 5) W4 ½
Buffalo 2 - 2 (12 - 3) W1 2½
Bowling Green 2 - 2 (6 - 8 ) W1 2½

West

Northern Illinois 3 - 2 (8 - 5) L1 -
Western Michigan 1 - 3 (4 - 10) L2 1½
Toledo 1 - 4 (8 - 5) L1 2
Ball State 0 - 4 (4 - 8 ) L6 2½
Eastern Michigan 0 - 4 (3 - 9) L5 2½
Central Michigan 0 - 5 (2 - 11) L6 3

Even though it seems way too early to think about conference tournament seedings, and even though the in-division games have yet to begin, a few teams in the West are getting to a point where they may be digging themselves into a very deep hole. Ball State, Eastern, and Central are all 3 losses down to division leading NIU. The fact that both Toledo and Western lost (as did every other team in the division, for that matter) puts this pack into a little more favorable position, especially considering the 2nd place bye to Cleveland that each division will have this year. Unless some of these teams start winning, they may get factored out of the bye picture before the in-division games even begin. Of course, the way things are going, it may be that the status-quo is maintained all through the inter-division games by all of the teams losing all of their games in the next week...

Over on the East side of things, BGSU's win is very important for them to not get shuffled out early as well. The West teams may head into in-division play with nothing decided in the top four if things continue like they are. In this scenerio, Buffalo and BG will be in a position to have to make up ground. This could make for a very interesting start to things in a week or so when d-day hits... In the first mid-week stretch, Kent travels to Miami, Akron travels to Ohio, Ohio travels to Buffalo, and Miami travels to Akron. This should be fun and frivality for all...

Oh... I mentioned the 2 byes per division... In case you haven't heard, the tournament structure has changed with the departure of Marshall. On MACReportOnline recently, it was mentioned that the new tournament layout will have four byes to Cleveland, resulting in the 1st and 2nd place teams in each division bypassing the campus site games. Also, each division will seed separately (1-6), which probably means that the tournament will be similar in structure to the SEC. Something like:

Opening Round (at campus sites)
West 6 at East 3
West 5 at East 4
East 5 at West 4
East 6 at West 3

2nd Round (in Cleveland)
West 1 vs. West 5/East 4 winner
East 2 vs. East 6/West 3 winner
East 1 vs. East 5/West 4 winner
West 2 vs. West 6/East 3 winner

(props to MACReportOnline, and also to MikeSpicer at BSUFans for pointing me in the direction and laying out the example schedule)

Thus, the West and East's #2 spots will be a much coveted position and may give a ray of hope to a struggling West squad or two. I haven't seen anything official out of the MAC offices (at least nothing that I've seen), so confirmation and more details as they come out...

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