MAC TOURNAMENT: The 20th Mid-American Conference Tournament gets underway Wednesday, March 1 with five first-round games on campus sites. The five first-round winners, along with three teams that earned first-round byes, will advance to play at Cleveland's Gund Arena on March 5, 6 and 8. This marks the first time that all 13 league teams will make the tournament and also earmarks the first tournament to be held in Cleveland. First-round match ups scheduled for Wednesday night are as follows;
#13 Central Michigan (5-22, 2-16) at #4 Akron (17-10, 11-7) - 7:30
Site: James A. Rhodes Arena (5,942) Akron, Ohio.
Coaches: CMU-Jay Smith (Saginaw Valley 1981) 20-59/third year; Akron-Dan Hipsher (Bowling Green 1977) 63-70/fifth year.
Series: Akron leads 14-9. Last Meeting: Akron 69, CMU 55, Feb. 2, 2000
MAC Tournament Records: CMU 5-6; Akron 0-2.
Winner will play: Winner of the Marshall-Buffalo game at 2:30 Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: Both teams ended the regular season on tailspins. Akron dropped its last three games and four of the last five. The Zips will be gunning for their first MAC Tournament win ever. CMU has dropped its last eight games since beating Northern Illinois on Jan. 31. The Zips were 11-2 at home this year with losses to Miami and Bowling Green and the Chippewas were 0-9 in MAC road games. Akron, however, must find a way to contain CMU forward David Webber (19.0 ppg), who won two of the last three MAC Offensive Player of the Week awards. Webber scorched Ball State for 51 points on Feb. 24 but injured his wrist in the process. He is listed as hopeful for Wednesday's game. Webber is the lone CMU player to average double figures in points. Freshman Chad Pleiness is at 8.9 ppg and guard Tim Kisner is at 8.4 ppg. Akron is more balanced than CMU and features a solid guard combo that the Chippewas will have to contend with. Jami Bosley's 41 points at Eastern Michigan is the most by a MAC player this year behind Webber's 51. Bosley (16.4 ppg) teams with Jimmal Ball (13.4 ppg) to run the show for Hipsher's crew. Ball leads the MAC in steals (2.63) while Bosley's 85.2% free throw rate is the league's best. Add in Ryan Andrick (14.7 ppg/6.5 rpg) and George Phillips (5.8 rpg) on the inside, and the Zips pose an offensive threat.
MAC Stats CMU UA
Points 68.7 (11) 76.0 (3)
Pt. allowed 75.7 (11) 71.6 (9)
FG pct. 43. 9 (7) 44.7 (5)
FG pct. Def. 45.5 (11) 43.2 (5)
FT pct. 68.2 (9) 76.5 (1)
Reb. Margin -6.7 (12) -0.7 (9)
Blocked shots 1.52 (13) 3.19 (7)
Steals 6.1 (12) 8.0 (5)
Assists 1 4.5 (6) 15.5 (5)
Assist-TO Ratio 1.02 (7) 1.12 (3)
TO Margin +2.26 (3) +1.70 (5)
# 12 Buffalo (5-22, 3-15) at #5 Marshall (19-8, 11-7) - 7:05
Site: Henderson Center (9,043) Huntington, W.Va.
Coaches: UB-Reggie Witherspoon (Empire State College 1995) 3-19/1st year; Greg White (Marshall 1977) 67-46/fourth year.
Series: Marshall leads 4-0. Last Meeting: Marshall 88, UB 72, Feb. 19, 2000.
MAC Tournament Records: Buffalo 0-0; Marshall 0-2.
Winner will play: Winner of the Akron-Central Michigan game at 2:30 on Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: Marshall plays its first MAC Tournament game at home after playing on the road its last two years since rejoining the MAC, while the Bulls, in their second year in the league, will encounter their first-ever tournament game. Marshall is coming off an 88-83 home loss to Bowling Green, game that snapped the Thundering Herd's four-game winning streak. The Bulls last won Jan. 26 against Western Michigan and have lost eight in a row. Marshall defeated Buffalo twice in February, 93-61 in Huntington and 88-72 in Buffalo. Marshall features the league's top scoring team (82.9 ppg) and top individual scorer in sophomore forward Tamar Slay (20.3). Slay also boasts a MAC best 3.3 three-point field goals per game. Another MU sophomore, center J.R. VanHoose, ranks among league leaders in scoring (sixth/17.5), rebounding (second/8.7) and field goal percentage (second/56.5%). Marshall also has the league's top assists man in Cornelius Jackson (7.22). The Bulls showed potential when they knocked off the then #1 MAC team in Akron on Jan. 24 and followed with a triumph against Western Michigan. Since then, however, the Bulls have failed to produce a win. A bright spot for the Bulls this season is that the team's three MAC wins are more than last year's lone tally, and that the team survived a coaching change when Tim Cohane departed after five games. The Bulls' Mike McKie captured the first player of the week honor in Buffalo history and ranks second in the league in blocked shots with 63 as well as leading the team in rebounding at 6.0. Two Bulls' players rank in double figures in scoring, guard Louis Campbell (11.3) and Damien Foster (10).
MAC Stats UB Mar
Points 67.1 (12) 82.9 (1)
Pt. allowed 82.5 (13) 75.0 (10)
FG pct. 39.5 (13) 47.9 (5)
FG pct. Def. 46.2 (13) 44.2 (9)
FT pct. 65.8 (13) 70.6 (2)
Reb. Margin -7.6 (13) +0.7 (6)
Blocked shots 4.30 (2) 3.74 (4)
Steals 7.11 (8) 8.26 (t-2)
Assists 12.7 (12) 16.5 (1)
Assist-TO Ratio 0.68 (13) 1.16 (1)
TO Margin -3.37 (13) +2.19 (4)
#11 Western Michigan (10-17, 6-12) at #6 Ohio (18-12, 11-7) -7:00
Site: Convocation Center (13,000) Athens, Ohio.
Coaches: WMU-Bob Donnewald (Hanover 1964) 151-155/11th year; Ohio-Larry Hunter (Ohio 1971) 183-136/11th year.
Series: WMU leads 54-52. Last Meeting: WMU 78, Ohio 74, OT, Jan. 22, 2000.
MAC Tournament Records: WMU 6-14; Ohio 14-15.
Winner will play: Kent at 9:30 Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: In a rematch of an overtime game played Jan. 22 in Athens, the Bobcats will try and not let a rare home loss end their season. In that first matchup, the Broncos' Thadus Williams scored a game-high 25 points, which was double his season average of 11.7 ppg. WMU also features Tony Barksdale, who ranks third in the MAC in scoring at 19.7 ppg, and guard Rod Brown. Brown averages 11.2 ppg, but also runs the point and is second league-wise with 168 assists. The Broncos struggled to find a consistent level this year, and after winning back-to-back games against Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, closed the regular season with three consecutive losses. The Bobcats could easily have 22 wins with a little more good luck. Four times they have dropped overtime contests this season. Ohio has a balanced team that features solid guard play, the top rebounder in the league and top assist-turnover ratio player. Forward Shaun Stonerook ranks among the league leaders in scoring (11th/15.9), rebounding (first/11.7), assists (sixth/4.2), steals (seventh/1.8), free throw pct. (12th/72.6) and assist-turnover ratio (14th/1.15). Guard Dustin Ford has the best assist-turnover ratio in the league at 3.03 (94 assists-31 turnovers). Bobcat freshman Brandon Hunter averages 11.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
MAC Stats WMU Ohio
Points 73.8 (6) 72.4 (8)
Pt. allowed 78.3 (12) 68.8 (4)
FG pct. 42.8 (10) 43.1 (9)
FG pct. Def. 45.8 (12) 42.7 (3)
FT pct. 68.6 (7) 67.3 (10)
Reb. Margin -2.2 (11) +6.1 (1)
Blocked shots 2.52 (9) 3.23 (6)
Steals 6.8 (9) 7.4 (7)
Assists 13.2 (11) 15.9 (4)
Assist-TO Ratio 0.84 (10) 0.91 (8)
TO Margin +0.63 (8) -2.48 (11)
#10 Northern Illinois (13-14, 7-11) at #7 Toledo (17-12, 11-7) -7:00
Site: Savage Hall (9,000) Toledo, Ohio.
Coaches: NIU-Brian Hammel (Bentley College 1975) 116-131/ninth year; UT-Stan Joplin (Toledo 1979) 64-47/fourth year.
Series: UT leads 24-11. Last Meeting: UT 65, NIU 61, Feb. 23, 2000.
MAC Tournament Records: NIU 7-4; UT 12-14.
Winner will play: Ball State at 7:00 Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: For the third time this year, these West Division teams meet. Toledo captured wins in the previous encounters, 65-61 in Toledo on Feb. 23 and also 65-61 in DeKalb on Jan. 26. The Rockets are the hottest team in the MAC and have won 10 games in a row. The Rockets' 10 consecutive wins going into the MAC Tournament is tied for the second most in league history behind Ball State's 12 straight heading into the 1989 championship, which the Cardinals won. Ohio, in 1986 and 1994, also had won 10 straight prior to the MAC Tournament. Toledo's resurgence was sparked by the return of forward Greg Stempin (15.9 ppg/8.1 rpg). Stempin suffered from a hyperextension and ligament sprain to his right elbow and missed five games in January, during which the Rockets went 0-5. Since his return they have not lost. Chad Kamstra (13.3 ppg) is the school's all-time leader in three-point goals with 221, including his school single season mark of 78 this year. Justin Hall (14.7 ppg) gives UT a triple threat, and the potential of 6-10 center Craig Rodgers (18 points versus Ball State on Feb. 16) adds power inside. Robierre Cullars contributes 8.7 ppg and 5.5 rpg for a balanced attack. The Huskies have one of the league's top veterans in senior center T.J. Lux and a rising star in sophomore forward Leon Rodgers. Lux is averaging 20.2 ppg, just a hair behind league leader Tamar Slay (20.3) of Marshall, and is second in rebounds at 8.7. Rodgers is producing 14.7 points and 6.9 rebounds each time out, ranking 13th and ninth, respectively, in the MAC. Rodgers also sits eighth in the league in field goal percentage (47.0%) while Lux is fifth (49.5%). NIU started the year 7-2 and has increased its win total by eight from a year ago, but has stumbled to a 2-5 mark in February.
MAC Stats NIU Toledo
Points 69.6 (10) 71.2 (9)
Pt. allowed 68.6 (3) 69.1 (5)
FG pct. 42.1 (12) 44.0 (6)
FG pct. Def. 43.1 (4) 42.6 (2)
FT pct. 68.4 (8) 69.1 (6)
Reb. Margin +3.1 (4) +3.3 (3)
Blocked shots 2.70 (8) 2.00 (10)
Steals 7.85 (6) 6.45 (11)
Assists 3.2 (10) 13.3 (9)
Assist-TO Ratio 0.82 (11) 0.78 (12)
TO Margin +0.48 (9) -2.48 (12)
#9 Miami (12-14, 8-10) at #9 Eastern Michigan (15-12, 9-9)
Site: Convocation Center (8,824) Ypsilanti, Mich.
Coaches: Miami-Charlie Coles (Miami 1965) 74-41/fourth year; EMU-Milton Barnes (Albion 1979) 62-52/fourth year.
Series: Miami leads 34-19. Last Meeting: Miami 73, EMU 64, Jan. 17, 2000.
MAC Tournament Records: Miami 21-15; EMU 19-14.
Winner will play: Bowling Green at noon on unday at Gund Arena.
Notes: This is the only first-round matchup where both contestants are coming off of wins. EMU has won two straight while Miami closed out the regular season with a win at Buffalo. Miami's concern is with its leading scorer, Anthony Taylor (17.2 ppg), who sprained an ankle six minutes into the regular season finale at Buffalo. His status for the first-round game remains in question. The scoring slack was picked up by Jason Grunkemeyer, who posted a career-high 26 points at Buffalo. Grunkemeyer ranks second in the MAC in three-point percentage (45.9%) and the RedHawks will need every shot to count as they will be encountering the league's top rated team in field goal defense (41.1%). With Miami leading the league in scoring defense (63.7), any points will be at a premium. EMU's leading scorer, Calvin Warner at 14.4 ppg, ranks only 16th in the league. Warner also is listed among league leaders in field goal percentage (third/54.1%) and rebounds (eighth/7.0). Freshman C.J. Grantham is 11th in assists (3.59) and 12th in steals (1.44). Two other Eagles have averaged double figures in points - Antonio Gates at 10.6 and Corey Tarrant at 10.4. Miami's Rob Mestas is averaging a national best 39.7 minutes per game and is producing good numbers. He is third in the MAC in assists (5.54).
MAC Stats Miami EMU
Points 64.3 (13) 72.7 (7)
Pt. allowed 63.7 (1) 70.9 (8)
FG pct. 42.1 (11) 43.8 (8)
FG pct. Def. 43.8 (8) 41.1 (1)
FT pct. 72.8 (4) 64.3 (12)
Reb. Margin -1.0 (10) +3.6 (2)
Blocked shots 1.88 (12) 4.56 (1)
Steals 5.19 (13) 8.26 (t-2)
Assists 12.0 (13) 13.7 (8)
Assist-TO Ratio 1.08 (5) 0.84 (9)
TO Margin +1.46 (6) +0.37 (10)
Teams Earning First-Round Byes
#1 Bowling Green (22-6, 14-4)
Head Coach: Dan Dakich (Indiana 1985) 50-32/third year
MAC Tournament Record: 11-17
Will Play: The winner of the Eastern Michigan-Miami game at noon on Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: BG was crowned Mid-American Conference champions and East Division champions this season. The Falcons won their first outright MAC title since 1983, although they were co-champions in 1997 with Miami. BG fooled the preseason pollsters as not one of the 38 voters in the MAC News Media Association poll picked BG to win the East Division, although they did garner three votes to take the tournament. The Falcons are led by senior forward Anthony Stacey, who can score from anywhere on the floor. Stacey's numbers show 16.8 points and 5.9 rebounds a game in an injury- slowed season. His shot with 1.1 seconds left beat Akron 73-72 in a late season game that propelled the Falcons on to the MAC title. In addition to Stacey, BG features three other players in double figures - Keith McLeod (13.3 ppg), Dave Esterkamp (13.2) and Len Matela (12.9). Of the Falcons' top seven players, four have field goal percentages of 54.4% or higher. The team's 50.3% field goal rate is second in the nation to North Carolina's 50.4%. BG has won six in a row.
#2 Ball State (19-8, 11-7)
Head Coach: Ray McCallum (Ball State 1983) 123-75/7th year.
MAC Tournament Record: 28-12
Will Play: The winner of the Toledo-Northern Illinois game at 7:00 on Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: West Division co-champions with Toledo, the Cardinals won the tiebreaker for the #2 seed. Ball State closed the season strong, winning eight of its last nine games. Among those wins was a 10-point triumph against MAC champion Bowling Green. The Cardinals' roster includes the league's top shot blocker in Lonnie Jones (69 blocks) and one of the top freshman in Theron Smith. Smith averages 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. With nifty ball handler Mickey Hosier and shooting guard Duane Clemens, the Cardinals can compete with anyone in the league. Hosier ranks third in the MAC with a 2.44 assist-turnover ratio and Clemens is fifth in scoring with 19.0 ppg. Ball State has three of the top 14 rebounders in the league, but is eighth in rebounding margin.
#3 Kent (21-6, 13-5)
Head Coach: Gary Waters (Ferris State 1975) 66-48/fourth year
MAC Tournament Record: 11-16
Will Play: The winner of the Ohio-Western Michigan game at 9:30 on Sunday at Gund Arena.
Notes: The defending tournament champion Golden Flashes closed the season with a loss at Ohio that cost them a shot at the league's regular-season title. Nevertheless, this squad has won a school-record 44 games the last two years and has exceptional depth, a handy ingredient come tournament time. Eight players average 15 or more minutes a game and no one goes over 28 minutes a contest. Trevor Huffman is the nation's only player to lead his team in scoring (13.0) and assists (4.6) without starting a game. John Whorton, last year's tournament MVP, averages 12.9 ppg and leads the MAC in field goal percentage at 63.1%. That percentage puts Whorton third in the nation. Huffman is a close second in the conference in free throw percentage at 84.2% and is fifth in assists (4.6). Four players have scored 20 points in a game and nine players have posted 10 or more points in a game. Kyrem Massey averages 10.3 points per game and Andrew Mitchell 9.4 ppg. Kent did not lose two games in a row all season and came back from a 16-0 deficit at Texas-El Paso to win the Miners' Tournament in late December.
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
MAC NOTES: Only two MAC teams closed out the regular season with wins against teams with winning records - Bowling Green (88-83 over Marshall) and Ohio (71-61 against Kent) ... two MAC arenas will be hosting a MAC Tournament game for the first time ever this week ... Marshall's Henderson Center and Eastern Michigan's Convocation Center will be those two sites ... Ohio led the MAC in home attendance this year with an average of 7,629 ... the Toledo Rockets' 10 consecutive wins going into the MAC Tournament is tied for the second most in league history behind Ball State's 12 straight heading into the 1989 championship, which the Cardinals won ... Ohio, in 1986 and 1994, also had won 10 straight prior to the MAC Tournament ... the last two times a MAC Tournament was held during a Presidnetial election year (1992 and 1996), Eastern Michigan won the post-season championshp ... David Webber's 51 points last week against Ball State was the sixth most in MAC history and the second highest total in the nation this season ... the tournament record for points in a game is 45 by Miami's Ron Harper in 1985 versus Ball State ... since going to divisional play two years ago, no divisional winner has won the MAC Tournament ... the team with the most losses to win a MAC Tournament was Northern Illinois in 1982 ... the Huskies were 13-13 going into that tournament ... from 1987 through 1994 the MAC team with the best regular season record also won the tournament ... since then only two of the five teams with the best regular season record have won the tournament ... Akron senior point guard Jimmal Ball (5-9) has been selected for the 12th annual ESPN National Slam Dunk Championship, slated for March 30 at Conseco Arena in Indianapolis ... Miami has played in the last three MAC championship games ... Ball State's 20-point win versus then #24 Purdue is the only win by a MAC team this year over a ntionally ranked opponent.
MAC PLAYERS AROUND THE NATION
as of Feb. 28.
Scoring: #24. Tamar Slay, Marshall (20.3); #26. T.J. Lux, Northern Illinois (20.2); #31 Tony Barksdale, Western Michigan (19.7); #37. David Webber, Central Michigan (19.0).
Assists: #8. Cornelius Jackson, Marshall (7.2).
FG Pct.: #3. John Whorton, Kent (63.1%).
Rebounding: #3. Shaun Stonerook, Ohio (11.7).
Blocked Shots: #25. Lonnie Jones, Ball State (2.6).
#Pt FG Per game.: #11. Tamar Slay, Marshall (3.3)
3Pt FG Pct.: #3. Keith McLeod, Bowling Green (49.5%), #15. Jason Grunkemeyer, Miami (45.9%), #19. Tamar Slay, Marshall (45.4%).