Saturday, January 14, 2006

MAC Today: The Weekend They Televised All of the Games

[note: Still guest-blogging the MAC coverage at Hoops Junkie]

A good weekend for MAC basketball on television, as four of the six games are televised in some fashion. Again this Saturday, the East looks to continue dominance, with Las Vegas listing the East team as favorite in every single game. Nevertheless, there may be a few good games mixed in with the blowouts. Here's the lineup for the five games on tap today:

Northern Illinois (8-4, 3-1) @ Akron (9-3, 3-0)

The most interesting game of the day may be the NIU/Akron tilt. Northern Illinois has seemed to play to the level of their competition, with their last 7 games decided by 5 or less points. Even still, a win in this game will give the Huskies their best MAC start since 1996 and will cement them firmly into first place in the West division, where they already are two wins up on the nearest competitor. Akron, on the other hand, is looking to extend their four-game winning streak and preserve their best start since 2000. The Zips own a 9-1 record at Rhodes arena against the Huskies, meaning that it may be a tough win for NIU on the road.

Las Vegas says: Akron 8 pt favorites over NIU

Audio: Akron or NIU
Television: ONN
Gametime: 7 p.m. (ET)

CMU (2-10, 0-4) @ Ohio (9-2, 3-0)

Per the norm with the undefeated East squads, Ohio is also building on it's best season since forever (1986, actually) when they host the CMU Chippewas. The Chips have not won at Ohio since 1990, so the task of taking out the MAC leader on the road is that much tougher. The Bobcats have had a great bench presence and unbelievable balance, with six players averaging between 7 and 13 ppg. The Chips will likely attempt to keep the score low, much like they did in their close 66-60 loss to Kent. CMU has held their last 7 opponents under 70 points, and will need to continue this trend to stay in the game today. Giordan Watson, who leads the team with a 13.8ppg average, has been on fire the last two games, averaging 23.5 points in those games.

Las Vegas says: Ohio 20 pt favorites over CMU

Audio: Ohio or CMU
Television: ONN
Gametime: 2 p.m. (ET)

Miami (7-5, 4-0) @ BSU (4-7, 0-3)

Broken record time... Miami is off to it's best MAC start since 1999 as they travel to Muncie to take on the winless-in-the-MAC Ball State Cardinals. This series was hotly contested last season, with Miami taking an overtime victory at Millett and a controversial 2-point victory at the Johnny (the winning shot was made after the buzzer but counted nonetheless). Miami, who also has been playing close to it's competition with two come from behind victories in their last three games, has been relying heavily on William Hatcher (14.2ppg, 4.7apg, 37mpg) with balanced support from Tim Pollitz (12ppg, 5.4rpg) and Nathan Peavy (10.6ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.3spg). Ball State is still led by Skip Mills' MAC-leading 19.8 average (6.7rpg, 35mpg) with Maurice Acker stepping up to support (12ppg in last 5 games), but the Cards are getting very little consistent support from their inside players. Persistent foul trouble (8 foul-outs in 3 MAC games) and long scoring droughts (one 7 min drought per game in 3 MAC games) have hampered BSU's efforts in MAC play, contributing to their 5 game losing streak and 1-7 D1 record since Peyton Stovall's injury.

Las Vegas says: Miami 1.5 pt favorites at BSU

Audio: Miami or BSU (WCRD or WLBC)
Television: BSSN (Satellite Coordinates: SBS 6, Transponder 9)
Gametime: 4 p.m. (ET)

WMU (4-9, 1-2) @ Buffalo (11-3, 1-2)

Buffalo looks to bounce back from their 2-game road losing streak as they start a 3 game homestand against Western Michigan. The Broncos have won the last three games at Alumni Arena, but WMU is below .500 in the MAC for the first time under Steve Hawkins and have lost four of the last five games entering this two-game road trip. Sophomore Joe Reitz is leading the team with 13.9ppg and 7.6rpg, with support from Brian Snider (11.9ppg, 5.8apg). Buffalo is attempting to recover from two straight close road losses against West foes, returning to the friendly confines where they carry a 11 game winning streak. The Bulls need to improve their ball handling after a 27 turnover performance in the loss to Toledo. The Bulls have five players averaging double figures, led by Calvin Cage's (17.8ppg, 3.2apg) and
Yassin Idbihi (14.2ppg, 7.2rpg).

Las Vegas says: Buffalo 10.5 pt favorites over WMU

Audio: UB or WMU
Gametime: 7 p.m (ET)

Kent (9-5, 3-0) @ EMU (3-8, 0-3)

Guess what? Like much of the Eastern division, Kent State is also looking to build an undefeated conference start and start 4-0 in the MAC, matching their all-time best conference start in 2004, as they travel to Eastern. Kent has won every game in the series since 1999, winning nine straight matchups. Jay Youngblood leads the Flashes with a 14.4 average, while DeAndre Haynes averages 11.8. Omni Smith and Kevin Warzynski have stepped up in recent games helping to build this win streak. EMU is looking to stop a four game slide and is in the middle game of a three game home set. John Bowler leads EMU with a MAC-leading 19.8 average to go along with 9.4rpg, providing the Eagles' most consistent offense. Bowler is backed up by three other players that are averaging around 8ppg.

Las Vegas says: Kent 7.5 pt favorites at EMU

Audio: Kent or EMU
Gametime: 7:30 p.m. (ET)


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