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CLEVELAND - The Kent State Golden Flashes and the Western Michigan Broncos have been selected to win their respective divisions in the 2011-12 MAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. The poll was announced prior to the league's preseason media teleconference and was determined by a 24-member MAC News Media Panel. The Golden Flashes also garnered 12 votes to win the FirstEnergy MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. Ten of the league's top men's basketball players were also selected to the preseason All-MAC teams for the East and West Divisions as announced by the league office.
Kent State first-year Head Coach Rob Senderoff will welcome back 10 letterwinners, including four starters to a team that had won the 2011 MAC Regular Season title and advanced to the National Invitational Quarterfinals. In 2011, the Kent State men's basketball team made history by becoming the first Mid-American Conference (MAC) team in 21 years and only the second in 48 years to win back-to-back outright MAC regular season titles.
Last season, the Golden Flashes finished with 25 wins and will welcome back 2010-11 MAC Player of the Year Justin Greene. Greene, who was also a First Team All-MAC recipient, was the only player in the league ranked in the top 10 in points (6th - 15.4 ppg), rebounds (3rd - 8.3 rpg), blocked shots (5th - 1.4 bpg) and in field goal percentage (9th - .478). The Flashes will also welcome back 2010-11 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Porrini as well as 2010-11 Sixth Man of the Year Carlton Guyton.
The Golden Flashes were followed in the East Division preseason predictions by Akron, while Ohio was picked to finish third. Miami was tabbed to finish fourth, while Buffalo and Bowling Green rounded out this year's selections.
Western Michigan returns all five starters from last year's team that went 21-13 and captured the sixth MAC West title in program history, the fifth under head coach Steve Hawkins. It was the eighth time in program history the team had won 20 or more games, and the fourth time since Hawkins became head coach in 2004. The Broncos made their way to the semifinal round of the MAC Tournament last season before falling to eventual champion Akron.
Ball State followed Western Michigan in the preseason rankings in second, while Central Michigan was selected to finish third. Toledo was picked to place fourth, while Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan rounded out the West Division selections.
The West Division preseason All-MAC representatives are Ball State’s Randy Davis and teammate Jarrod Jones, Western Michigan’s Flenard Whitfield and Demetrius Ward and Central Michigan’s Trey Zeigler.
The East Division squad is comprised of Kent State’s Greene, Ohio’s D.J. Cooper, Akron’s Zeke Marshall, Miami’s Julian Mavunga and the 2010-11 MAC Freshman of the Year from Buffalo, Javon McCrea.
The MAC regular season gets underway on Wednesday, November 9 as Akron travels to Starkville, Miss. to take on Mississippi State at 7 p.m. in the 2K Sports Classic (ESPNU). Conference action begins on Saturday, January 7 as all teams will start to fight for position in the FirstEnergy Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place on March 7-10 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
2011-2012 Men's Basketball Preseason All-MAC Teams/Predicted Order of Finish
East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio
Justin Greene, F, Kent State
Zeke Marshall, C, Akron
Julian Mavunga, F, Miami
Javon McCrea, F, Buffalo
West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Randy Davis, G, Ball State
Jarrod Jones, F, Ball State
Demetrius Ward, F, Western Michigan
Flenard Whitfield, F, Western Michigan
Trey Zeigler, G, Central Michigan
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Kent State - 132 points (16)
2. Akron - 104 points (8)
3. Ohio - 94 points
4. Miami - 80 points
5. Buffalo - 62 points
6. Bowling Green - 32 points
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Western Michigan - 128 points (14)
2. Ball State - 111 points (9)
3. Central Michigan - 92 points (1)
4. Toledo - 76 points
5. Northern Illinois - 59 points
6. Eastern Michigan - 38 points
(1st place votes in parentheses)
FirstEnergy MAC Tournament Champion:
Kent State (12), Akron (6), Ball State (3), Western Michigan (2), Central Michigan (1)