GREAT LAKES POLL RELEASED:
In the 10th Great Lakes Region poll of 1999, Akron was ranked second behind Indiana, while Kentucky was fifth.
3. Ohio State
4. Western Kentucky
UB, NIU ALSO RANKED:
In addition to the Great Lakes Region, which houses the bulk of the league's schools, Buffalo is also ranked this week in the state of New York Region for the 10th straight week at sixth. Northern Illinois is sixth in the Midwest Region for the second consecutive week.
AKRON FALLS IN RANKING:
Akron dropped six spots to No. 18 in the latest NSCAA/adidas poll, which was released Monday. The Zips reached their highest ranking of the year -- No. 12 -- after a win against Marshall.
KENTUCKY, NIU BATTLE FOR TITLE:
Kentucky and Northern Illinois will face one another for the second time in two weeks in the MAC Men's Soccer Championship at the UK Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky. The Huskies defeated the Wildcats 4-2 in DeKalb, Ill., in the final week of the regular season. This is Kentucky's second appearance in the championship match in four seasons, while this is Northern Illinois' first time in the title contest since rejoining the MAC in 1997.
A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:
The Mid-American Conference is one of 11 conferences that receive an automatic bid to the 32-team NCAA Tournament, while 10 other conferences will compete in the play-ins for five other automatic berths. The remaining 16 bids will be chosen on an at-large basis.
IT'S WAIT AND SEE FOR AKRON:
Akron will have to wait patiently this week and hope that the Zips will earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the pairings are announced this Sunday evening. Akron, which won last year's league tournament, played Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Championship and fell to the eventual national champions, 2-0, in double overtime.
NIU AND TITLE MATCHES:
Northern Illinois is in its first league championship match since 1989, when the Huskies were affiliated with the now-defunct Big Central Soccer Conference. A win would put NIU in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1973, which is the team's only appearance in the Big Dance.
UK AND ITS HOME FIELD:
Kentucky has played its last three and a half seasons at the UK Soccer Complex, site of this year's MAC Tournament. Since they moved into their new home, the Wildcats have registered a 21-8-4 mark there, including a 5-3-1 record this season. UK is 3-0-1 on its home field in league matches and have outscored the opposition 11-1.
IT WASN'T IN THE CARDS:
Bowling Green had its string of consecutive appearances in the title halted at five straight following a 4-2 loss to Northern Illinois. The Falcons were the only school to appear in each of the five previous championship matches, and were gunning for their fourth championship title. BG owns a MAC tournament mark of 11-3, which includes its quarterfinal loss to the Huskies.
CARMICHAEL NETS 'EM FOR HERD:
Marshall freshman Byron Carmichael showed why he was named the MAC's Co-Newcomer of the Year with Akron's Torbjrn Birkeland in the league's postseason tournament. The first-year player will finish the season leading all newcomers with 10 goals, including three that he picked up over the final two weekends. Carmichael also clinched the rookie scoring title
NIU AND ITS WINNING WAYS:
Northern Illinois' win over Kentucky to close out the regular season was the Huskies third straight and 10th this season. That streak increased to five consecutive victories following two MAC Tournament wins last weekend. The Huskies' current streak is the school's longest streak since early in the 1994 season. NIU has not won six straight since opening the 1984 season with six consecutive wins.
WMU AND THE "W" COLUMN:
Though Western Michigan recorded only two wins during the 1999 campaign, both of them came against nationally-ranked opponents. The Broncos picked up their first win against No. 16 Notre Dame, 1-0 in overtime, and then pulled off an upset of then No. 12 Akron, 2-1. The Zips were also the top team in the MAC Tournament at the time of the defeat.
AKRON NETS ANOTHER TITLE:
For the third consecutive year, Akron claimed the league's regular season title when it defeated Marshall 4-1. It was also the team's fourth title over the last five years. Prior to this year's title, the Zips had advanced to the championship match in each of the years that Akron has won the league's regular season title.
THE SUCCESS OF NO. 1 TEAMS:
In the five year history of the men's MAC soccer tournament, the top ranked team in the tourney has had its fair share of pressure but has also enjoyed plenty of success. Three No. 1 seeds have won championships -- Miami (1994), Bowling Green (1996) and Akron (1998) -- while the Falcons won as a No. 2 seed in 1995 and a No. 3 seed in 1997.