Men's Basketball Heads Into the Final Stretch of the Season

Updated 2/21/2000

THE FINAL WEEK: Going into the last week of the season, there are too many possibilities to list all of them, but to follow is a team-by-team breakdown of best/worse-case scenarios for the MAC 's 13 teams leading into the tournament which begins March 1 on campus sites. 

East Division

Kent - The Golden Flashes can finish no worse than the #3 seed in the post-season tournament and could be the #1 seed if they win Saturday at Ohio, or if BG loses both of its games.

Bowling Green - The Falcons, who have clinched at least a first-round home game, could finish as high as the #1 seed with two wins and a Kent loss, or could drop as low as the #4 seed.

Akron - The Zips could finish as high as the #3 seed with a win versus Bowling Green and a Marshall win over the Falcons. Akron has clinched at least a first-round home game.

Marshall - The Herd has clinched a first-round home game and could finish as high as the #4 seed if BG beats Akron on Wednesday and the Herd wins its final two games.

Ohio - The Bobcats need a win Monday versus Miami to clinch a first-round home game. The highest seed they can hope for is #5 if they win their next three games and Marshall drops its two games.

Miami - The best the RedHawks can hope for is three wins to end the regular season and clinch as high as a #5 seed. The RedHawks could fade to as low as an #11 seed in a worse-case scenario.

Buffalo - The Bulls can not finish higher than the #11 seed and could drop to the #13 seed. The Bulls' home games against Ohio and Miami are crucial to several other teams' chances of hosting a first-round home game. With a win at home over Akron, no one will take the Bulls lightly.

West Division

Ball State - The Cardinals are tied with Toledo for first place. BSU has games remaining at Central Michigan and at Western Michigan. Their highest seed could be #2. In a tiebreaker situation with Toledo, BSU will benefit if Bowling Green wins the East Division.

Toledo - Tied with Ball State, the Rockets have games at Northern Illinois and at Central Michigan. In a tiebreaker situation, Toledo would benefit most if Kent wins the East Division. UT's highest seed possible is #2.

Eastern Michigan - The best possible scenario for the Eagles is to end the season with wins over Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, and have Miami and Ohio finish with 8-10 marks. That would put EMU as the #7 seed, its highest possible finish. Mathematically, that is possible, but the Eagles would need plenty of help from Buffalo, who plays both Ohio and Miami.

Northern Illinois - The Huskies are tied with Eastern Michigan and just behind Miami in battling for the #8 seed, which is the final seed for securing a first-round home game. NIU's dream would be to win out versus Toledo and Eastern Michigan, and have much needed help from the teams that play Miami (Marshall, Buffalo) and Ohio (Miami, Buffalo, Kent). A win by Miami over Ohio on Monday is crucial to any hopes for both NIU and EMU to move up.

Western Michigan - The Broncos have 10 losses and would need a miracle ending. They would benefit from Bowling Green finishing as the #1 seed. WMU wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio and Miami, both of whom could finish 8-10; and the Broncos would win the tiebreaker with either EMU or NIU, also possible 8-10 teams, if BG wins the East. Sounds complicated, but divine intervention would boost the Broncos to a #7 seed. The best they can finish is 8-10. They can finish no lower than #11.

Central Michigan - The Chippewas will finish as either the #12 or #13 seed. With games remaining at home versus Ball State and Toledo, CMU will have a say in the final standings and seedings.

TOLEDO'S STREAK CONTINUES: The Toledo Rockets have been unstoppable of late - the last eight games to be exact. The eight-game winning streak has boosted the team from last place in the West Division into a tie for first. The 8-0 mark has included road wins at Kent, Miami and Eastern Michigan. Toledo has also defeated the top two teams in the East Division - Kent and Bowling Green - and its top West division challenger, Ball State, in the last eight games. UT closes out the season with road games at Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.

KENT CLINCHES: Kent's 83-54 thrashing of Akron on Saturday secured the Golden Flashes a first-round bye for the MAC Tournament. Kent will close the regular season Saturday at Ohio and await its next game after that on March 4 at Gund Arena.

STACEY GETS RECORD: Bowling Green senior Anthony Stacey not only scored 24 points to lead the Falcons to a 71-61 win over Kent, but also became the school's career scoring leader in the process. Stacey surpassed Howard Komives' record of 1,834. Stacey ended the week with 1,861 points and was also named MAC Offensive Player of the Week.

ANY MORE? Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux already set the school's career scoring record earlier this year, and last week he added the Huskies' all-time rebounding standard to his resume. Lux's record setting grab came versus Central Michigan with the 1,078th of his career. He also needs one more double-double to break the all-time tie he holds with Allen Rayhorn at 57. Rayhorn was the rebounding record holder until Saturday. In scoring 30 points at Western Michigan last week, Lux pumped in 26 second-half points. He has 1,938 points and 1,080 rebounds in his career.

GOOD COMPANY: Should Marshall's Tamar Slay end the season as he is now, as the MAC's leader in scoring and three-point field goals, he will join Eastern Michigan's Earl Boykins (1998) and Ohio's Dave Jamerson (1990) as the only other players in MAC history to lead the league in both categories in the same season. Slay could also become the first sophomore since Bonzi Wells of Ball State in 1996 to lead the MAC in scoring. Slay, at 20.4 ppg, is battling Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux (20.0) for the scoring title. Should Slay win the scoring title, he would be the first Thundering Herd player since Leo Byrd (29.3) in 1959 to lead the MAC in that category.

LEADER BOARD: As always, there are a couple of surprises looking at MAC leaders in individual categories with just two weeks left in the season. Ohio's Dustin Ford leads the league in assist-turnover ratio at 3.26 after coming into the season with a career 1.08 average. Buffalo's Mike McKie is averaging 2.58 blocked shots per game in his first year in the league to rank just behind Ball State sophomore Lonnie Jones (2.60). Marshall's Tamar Slay, after posting 6.0 ppg last year, is at a MAC-best 20.4 ppg, and has upped his 3-point goals per game from 0.8 to 3.28. BG's Len Matela paces the league in field goal percentage at 64.6% after shooting 54.0% last season.

HOT SHOT: Toledo's Chad Kamstra made 10-of-10 free throws in the Rockets' win over Western Michigan and for the week hit 15-of-16 (93.8%).

TONY THE TIGER: Western Michigan's Tony Barksdale has crept back into late-season contention for the MAC scoring title. Barksdale has scored 83 points in the last three games (27.7 ppg) to improve his season average to 19.9 ppg. He is just a half-point behind Marshall's Tamar Slay (20.4) and nearly even with NIU's T.J. Lux (20.0) going into the last week of the season. The last WMU player to lead the league in scoring was Booker James in 1987 (22.1).

ROGERS ROUSTS CARDINALS: As if opposing coaches didn't have enough to worry about trying to stop Greg Stempin and Chad Kamstra, now comes another problem for Toledo opponents. Rockets' center Craig Rodgers, who scored a total of just 32 points his first two years in a Rocket uniform and had scored just 17 in the previous three games prior to last Wednesday's showdown with Ball State, had a breakout game. With a chance for first place on the line, the 6-10 junior center posted a career-best 18 points to lead Toledo to a 66-61 win. Rodgers was 6-of-8 from the field and 6-of-10 from the line.

ANOTHER OT: Ball State's 60-57 overtime win at home versus Miami was the 18th this year and 11th in league play involving MAC teams. For both the RedHawks and the Cardinals, it was their fourth extended game. Ohio has played a league-high five overtime games.

OVERTIME BREAKDOWN: (1999-2000 overtime records)
West	        W-L	East		W-L
Ball State	2-2	Akron		2-0
C. Michigan	0-1	Bowling Green	0-1
E. Michigan	2-2	Buffalo		0-1
N. Illinois	0-0	Kent		2-0
Toledo	        0-1	Marshall	1-0
W. Michigan	2-1	Miami		1-3
		        Ohio		1-4
BUZZER BEATER: It was his last home game as a senior and his last shot won the game in overtime. Ball State's Duane Clemens gave the crowd of 7,770 at University Arena something to remember with his three-pointer as time expired for a 60-57 win against Miami. The win allowed BSU to remain tied for first place with Toledo in the West Division.

BG AT 20: Bowling Green's 20th win of the season, in its victory Saturday at Eastern Michigan, marked the 11th time in school history that plateau has happened. The Falcons also completed a perfect 12-0 regular season at Anderson Arena. No other MAC team went through the regular season undefeated at home this year. BG has 16 wins in a row at home.

MAC NOTES: Ohio's Shaun Stonerook ranks among the top in in the MAC in scoring (10th at 16.0), rebounding (1st at 11.8), assists (8th at 4.04) and steals (9th at 1.78) ...Miami's Rob Mestas is five assists shy of 400 for his career and is 33 away from ranking 18th in MAC history ... the RedHawk's Anthony Taylor needs 8 points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career ... last year, due to injuries, Northern Illinois had only 9 dunks, but this year a healthy Huskie squad has 41 slams ... Marshall needs two more wins to reach 20 victories for the first time since rejoining the MAC for the 1997-98 season ... if Marshall reaches 20 wins, it would give the East Division three such teams ... the West Division in 1998 featured Western Michigan (21), Eastern Michigan (21) and Ball State (20) with at least 20 victories ... Kent's 44 wins in back-to-back seasons are the most in school history ... the MAC record is 55 by Ball State (1989 and 1990) ... Ohio point guard Dustin Ford has one or no turnovers in 20 of 27 games ... the East Division's top four teams have combined for a 47-3 home court record this year (Kent, Akron, Bowling Green and Marshall) ... two of the four teams will host a first round MAC tournament game ... with two wins last week, Marshall (18-7) surpassed its win total of 16 from last year ... Bowling Green (20-6) also betterd its previous year's win total of 18 with two wins last week ... Ball State is one win superior than its 16 wins last season ... two other MAC teams have surpassed last year's win total, Eastern Michigan has 13 victories after six last year, and Northern Illinois, also at 13 wins, has more than doubled its win total from 1999 ... Akron is one win shy of equalling its win total of 18 from last season ... Ball State needs five more three-point goals to set a single season record of 176 ... the Cardinal's 106 blocked shots is also the second most in school history ... Bowling Green's Dave Esterkamp reached 1,000 points for his career in the Falcons' win over Kent ... all five BG starters scored in double figures in that game for the seventh time this season ... BG has won 27 of its last 35 games dating back to last Febbruary ... players setting carerr-highs in points last week included Kent's Andrew Mitchell with 22 versus Akron, Eastern Michigan's Larry Fisher with 16 at Bowling Green and Central Michigan's Todd Schrotenboer with 19 at Northern Illinois.

MAC By the Numbers

1 - the number of free throws attempted by Toledo during its Jan. 22 home game versus Eastern Michigan.

1 - the number of players who rank in the top 10 in the MAC in both scoring, rebounding and assists (Ohio's Shaun Stonerook).

2 - the number of players who rank in the top 10 in the MAC in both scoring, rebounding and blocked shots (T.J. Lux, Northern Illinois and J.R. VanHoose, Marshall).

4 - overtime games played this year involving Eastern Michigan, Miami and Ball State.

3 - the margin Ohio's Shaun Stonerook has over his nearest competitor for the MAC rebounding title.

3 - the number of players who rank in the top 10 in the MAC in both scoring and rebounding (T.J. Lux, Northern Illinois, J.R. VanHoose, Marshall, and Shaun Stonerook, Ohio).

4.5% - the first-half shooting percentage of Eastern Michigan (1-of-22) in its 76-62 loss to Northern Illinois.

8 - MAC wins in a row by Toledo going into the Rockets' Wednesday night game at Northern Illinois.

10 - wins in a row by both Ball State and Marshall this year, the longest winning streaks by MAC teams.

14 - games by Miami's Rob Mestas during which he has played 40 minutes or more. Mestas leads the nation in minutes per game at an even 40. Miami has played three single OT games and a triple OT contest.

14 - points in overtime scored by Akron's Jami Bosley Jan. 19 at Eastern Michigan.

18 - overtime games played by MAC teams this season (11 single overtimes, five double-ots and 2 triple-ots).

26 - the RPI ranking of Kent as of Jan. 13, the highest by a MAC team.

25 - consecutive games Miami had held its opponent to 50.0% or less from the field until Toledo shot 63.2% in a 71-62 win Feb. 1.

56 - Games in a row won by Ball State when holding its opponent to under 60 points.

57 - career games with double figures in points and rebounds by Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux.

70 - the number of free throw attempts by TCU when it hosted Eastern Michigan on Dec. 21.

1,100 - extra minutes that MAC players have been on the court this year due to the 17 games involving league teams.

1,861 - career points by Bowling Green's Anthony Stacey, a school record set last week.

1,938 - career points by NIU's T.J. Lux, a school record set earlier this year.

MAC Single Overtime Games This Season (11):
D 4	at Wisc.-Green Bay 67, Miami 58
D 11	at Northern Iowa 83, Bowling Green 75
D 11	Western Michigan 89, at Oakland 87
D 30	at Eastern Michigan 82, Detroit 80
J 2	Kent 61 at Miami 57*
J 5     at Ball State 88, Toledo 85*
J 19	Akron 89, at Eastern Michigan 81*
J 22	Western Michigan 78, at Ohio 74*
F 9	at Ohio 83, Central Michigan 77*
F 12	at Akron 81, Ohio 79*
F 19	at Ball State 60, Miami 57*

MAC Double Overtime Games This Season (5):
N 19	Niagara 105, at Buffalo 103
D 20	Marshall 127, at Western Michigan 126*
D 21	at TCU 107, Eastern Michigan 101
D 29	Wake Forest 84, Ohio 78, at Honolulu
J 5	at Kent 73, Ohio 69*

MAC Triple Overtime Games This Season (2):
J 8	Eastern Michigan 98, at Ball State 93*
J 12	at Miami 86, Ball State 84*
* conference game