Mid-American Conference play begins this Saturday when Western Michigan (West Division) hosts Ohio (East Division) in Kalamazoo. Buffalo is the lone MAC team to tangle with a top-25 opponent when then Bulls play at North Carolina Sunday afternoon.
Akron (2-3, 0-0 MAC East):
The Zips went 1-1 last week with a season-opening home win over Rhode Island (74-60) and a loss in Birmingham to the No. 23 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (73-59). The Zips played the Tide tough, trailing 46-41 in the second half before Alabama went on a 21-4 run. Senior guard Nate Schindewolf, who averaged 3.9 ppg in his first three years, has stepped up to lead the Zips in scoring thus far with his 14.2 ppg. Schindewolf popped in a team-high 20 in Wednesday's (12/6) win over the Rams and leads the MAC in FT Pct. at 94.4% (17-of-18) and is second in 3-Pt. FG Pct. at 56.6% (10-of-18). Also posting double figures in points is sophomore Andy Hipsher (11.4) and junior David Falknor (10.8). The Zips' lone game this week is at Western Kentucky. From Dec. 21-23, the Zips play a challenging home slate with games against Cleveland State (12/21), Wyoming (12/23) and Purdue (12/27).
Bowling Green (3-2, 0-0 MAC East):
The Falcons dropped a road game at Illinois State, 83-73, before dropping a 107-68 defeat to Urbana at Anderson Arena, BG's 19th consecutive home win. BG, which finished 8-7 on the road last year, will look to win its first road game of the season Wednesday (12/13) night at Michigan. The Wolverines are on a four-game losing streak with all four losses to top-ranked teams, including No. 1 Duke. Junior forward Len Matela leads the MAC in FG Pct. at 64.8% (35-of-54), is third in scoring (18.8 ppg) and sixth in rebounds (9.0). Junior Keith McLeod suffered an ankle injury and was replaced in the starting lineup at ISU by sophomore Cory Ryan, who in turn paced the Falcons in scoring with 18 points. McLeod returned to play four minutes against Urbana. McLeod is second in the MAC in steals (2.25 per game) while teammate Trent Jackson is first (2.40).
Buffalo (1-3, 0-0 MAC East):
The Bulls notched their first win of the campaign in a 64-59 conquest of Duquesne (12/5). Junior guard Davis Lawrence led the way with a career-high 15 points, including 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. Lawrence shot all of his free throw attempts in the final three minutes of the game and 13 of his 15 points came in the last seven minutes of the game. The Bulls may have been inspired by a pregame talk from special guest Dick Vitale. All of UB's four games this year have had a final margin of six points or less. UB will take to the road for the first time this year when they play at North Carolina (12/17) and then at the South Florida Tournament (12/21-22). The Bulls are led in scoring by junior forward Robert Brown, who also ranks fifth in the MAC with his 18.2 ppg. Brown played last year at Schoolcraft JC in Michigan and the year before that at Central Michigan (2.4 ppg) behind MAC Freshman of the Year Mike Manciel.
Kent State (5-2, 0-0 MAC East):
The Golden Flashes have a layoff until Dec. 20 when they take their three-game winning streak into the San Juan Shootout with a first-round game against Northwestern. The Golden Flashes had played five games in 11 days, going 4-1. KSU's most recent victims were Youngstown State, 76-55 (12/6) and Wisconsin-Green Bay, 64-47 (12/9). Kyrem Massey popped in a career-best 26 versus the Phoenix, including a sizzling 11-of-14 (78.6%) from the field. Massey (52.3%) is just one of six MAC players averaging five field goals a game and shooting over 50.0% from the field. Massey also became the 18th player in school history to score 1,000 points and has 1,012 at this point. KSU jumped to a 6-0 lead at UWGB and have not trailed at any point the last three games.
Marshall (4-1, 0-0 MAC East):
Marshall stopped Niagara, 82-70, in the Marshall Memorial Classic in the Herd's only game last week to extend its non-conference home winning streak to 23. This week Marshall is idle until Saturday-Monday, facing Winthrop and IUPU-Fort Wayne, respectively, at home. Winthrop has been to the NCAA Tournament the last two years under the guidance of former Thundering Herd assistant coach Gregg Marshall. Big man J.R. VanHoose posted his 21st career-double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds against the Purple Eagles. Tamar Slay's 20 points keep him at the top of the MAC scoring charts with a league-best 22.0 ppg. Cornelius Jackson dished out seven assists to give him 393 for his career at Marshall and moved him to within seven of becoming the 19th player in MAC history to reach 400 career assists.
Miami (4-4, 0-0 MAC East):
One game after having its non-conference home winning streak snapped at 20 with a 55-54 loss to Dayton, Miami went on the road to topple No. 10 ranked Notre Dame, 73-64. Led by Alex Shorts' 16 points and Mike Ensminger's 16 points and 10 rebounds, the RedHawks won their second game this season versus a top-25 ranked club (No. 17/15 Temple, 66-58 on 11/30). Miami, which held a 44-26 rebound advantage, also improved to 5-6 versus top-25 clubs under fifth-year head coach Charlie Coles. Miami placed five players in double figures and won despite the loss of guard Doug Davis, who suffered a sprained left foot one day prior to the game. The three-guard starting lineup of Matt Jameson, Jason Grunkemeyer and Julius Johnson combined for 31 points, six assists, five steals and 106 minutes versus the Irish. Davis should return for Miami's next game versus Wright State (12/19). Coles has 173 career wins as a MAC coach and could tie former Eastern Michigan mentor Ben Braun for sixth place all-time in league history with one more win.
Ohio (2-2, 0-0 MAC East):
The Bobcats dropped a pair of games to ranked teams, 90-71 to No. 16/19 Virginia and 65-46 to No. 17/20 Wisconsin, both on the road. Ohio's five-game road trip continues this week with a contest at Duquesne (12/12) and a MAC-opening tilt at Western Michigan (12/16). The 46 points scored against the Cavaliers marked the first time since the 1997-98 season an Ohio team has been under 50 points. Junior forward Patrick Flomo leads the MAC in blocked shots with 3.75 per game. The Bobcats have five players averaging double figures in points - Anthony Jones (14.8), Dustin Ford (13.3), Brandon Hunter (11.8), Jon Sanderson (10.5) and Steve Esterkamp (10.3). Ohio's next home game is 12/19 versus West Virginia before playing its next four games on the road.
Ball State (3-4, 0-0 MAC West):
The Cardinals went 1-1 last week with a breakout 91-71 win over Big 12 member Texas Tech in the opening round of the Ameritech Indiana Classic. BSU's Theron Smith, MAC West Division Player of the Week, scored 40 points to set a tournament record and tie the Assembly Hall record for the most points by a non-IU player. Smith added 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. The 2000 MAC Freshman of the Year is among league leaders in rebounds (2nd, 10.1) scoring (4th, 18.6), FG Pct. (7th, 48.5%) and FT Pct. (14th, 72.2%). Billy Lynch, who plays both football (WR) and basketball for the Cardinals, has started the last four games on the hardwood. Lynch handed out six assists in the win versus the Red Raiders. Patrick Jackson, in his first year as a starter at guard, leads the team in assists (29) and steals (14) and is second in scoring (14.3).
Central Michigan (5-2, 0-0 MAC West):
The Chippewas went 1-1 last week, assuring themselves of a non-conference winning record for the first time since the 1988-89 campaign. The return of Mike Manciel, who missed last year with a broken foot, and the addition of Chris Kaman, a 7-foot freshman, has transformed the Chippewas. Manciel is averaging 12.7 points and a team-high 5.1 rebounds per game, and has 17 3-point goals after just 13 his freshman season. Kaman has blocked at least one shot in each game, including six against Northern Iowa, and is third in the league with 2.57 rejects per game. Kaman's six stuffs are the most by a MAC player this year versus a Division I opponent. Junior David Webber is averaging a team-high 17 ppg and needs just 98 points to reach 1,000 for his career. CMU closes out its non-league slate with games at Detroit (12/18) and versus Tri-State (12/21) before picking up the schedule with its MAC opener at Bowling Green (1/6).
Eastern Michigan (1-5, 0-0 MAC West):
Head coach Jim Boone picked up his first win as the Eagles' mentor in a 67-64 tussle with IUPUI (12/6). Melvin Hicks led four scorers in double figures with a game-high 22 points and EMU grabbed an impressive 47-29 rebounding edge. C.J. Grantham, a member of the league's all-freshman team last year, leads EMU in scoring (11.8) and assists (4.2 apg) and is third in rebounding (4.3) despite his 5-foot-9 inch status. Senior Tyson Radney has started only one game but is averaging 25.5 minutes per contest and has a MAC-leading 12.7 rebounds per game. Most recently he grabbed 14 caroms in the 70-57 loss to Iona. EMU is idle for 11 days until facing Chicago State (12/20) at home.
Northern Illinois (1-6, 0-0 MAC West):
Head coach Brian Hammel turned in his resignation, effective immediately, following the Huskies' 121-88 win over Rockford on 12/6. Hammel ended his nine-plus year career with a 117-138 mark at NIU. Huskie first assistant Andy Greer was named interim head coach and will make his debut 12/23 when the Huskies face DePaul. Greer, a 1984 graduate of Brockport State University of New York, previously served as head coach for the U.S. Merchant Marines (51-52, 5 years) and in 1997 his squad earned at at-large berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Huskies' 121 points against Rockford fell two shy of the school record. Junior Leon Rodgers did set a school record by going 13-of-13 from the field, which also established a MAC record (12-of-12 set twice - CMU's Jeff Tropf 1/4/78 versus NIU; and KSU's John Whorton 2/28/98 versus Akron). Seven players scored in double figures as NIU snapped its six-game losing streak to start the season.
Toledo (5-1, 0-0 MAC West):
The Rockets had their perfect season come to an end in a 84-67 loss at St. Bonaventure (12/8). The loss to the Bonnies was fueled by a season-high 21 turnovers and was UT's second loss in the last 18 games dating back to last year. Senior Greg Stempin had a four-game streak of 20 or more points until the Bonnies held him to 16. Stempin's 19.3 ppg ranks second in the MAC and his 51.1% from the field is sixth best. Sophomore guard Nick Moore continues his stellar play as his three-point accuracy of 56.0% (14-of-25) leads all MAC players and his 2.33 3-point goals per game is second. Freshman Terry Reynolds has made an impact and is listed among MAC leaders in scoring (sixth, 17.7), FG Pct. (11th, 44.3%)
FG Pct. (11th, 77.5%) and assists per game (3rd, 5.83). UT looks to get back on the winning track 12/16 at home versus Oakland before closing out its non-conference schedule with a tournament at Fresno State (12/19-20) and a game against Cincinnati (12/30) at Gund Arena.
Western Michigan (0-7, 0-0 MAC West):
The Broncos are looking for their first win of the campaign after dropping two games (Indiana and Texas Tech) last week. WMU's next game is its MAC opener when it hosts Ohio Saturday (12/16). The game against the Bobcats is the first of three straight at home, with Detroit (12/21) and Oakland (12/30) on tap. In the Ameritech Classic at Bloomington, Taylor Bro tallied 18 points and 18 rebounds after going into the tourney with averages of 4.6 ppg and 3.6 rpg. Steve Reynolds leads the Broncos with his 16.3 ppg, also 10th in the MAC, but he is shooting just 36.4% (39-of-107) from the field. As a team, the Broncos have yet to find their shooting touch (38.3% from the field, 162-of-423). The game against Ohio will be WMU's sixth MAC opener at home in the last seven years. In last year's opener, WMU dropped a 127-126 double-overtime loss to Marshall.