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CLEVELAND - The Ohio Bobcats and the Toledo Rockets have been selected to win their respective divisions in the 2012-13 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 Bobcats also garnered 16 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.
Ohio first-year Head Coach Jim Christian will welcome back 12 letterwinners, including five starters to a team that won the 2012 FirstEnergy MAC Men's Basketball Tournament before making a magical run to the NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16". Ohio’s 48 wins over the past two seasons are its most since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 campaigns and the 70 wins over the last three years are the most in program history. Christian enters his first season at Ohio after coaching at Kent State and most recently, TCU. The new head coach of the Bobcats owns the highest-winning percentage (.704) in Mid-American Conference history, He took the Golden Flashes to the postseason five times in six years and two MAC championships in the process.
The Bobcats were followed in the East Division preseason predictions by Akron, while Kent State was picked to finish third. Buffalo was tabbed to finish fourth, while Bowling Green and Miami rounded out this year's selections. The Zips also received six votes to take home the FirstEnergy MAC Tournament Title.
Toledo Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk is entering his third season at UT's helm and orchestrated a dramatic turnaround in the 2011-12 campaign. The Rockets registered the second-largest turnaround in NCAA Division I Basketball last year by compiling a 19-17 win-loss mark and advancing to post-season play for the first time in five years. The Rockets return their entire starting lineup, including second-team All-MAC honoree and junior Rian Pearson (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and 2011-12 MAC Freshman of the Year Julius Brown (11.9 ppg, 4.9 apg).
Eastern Michigan followed Toledo in the preseason rankings in second, while Western Michigan was selected to finish third. Ball State was picked to place fourth, while Northern Illinois and Central Michigan rounded out the West Division selections.
The West Division preseason All-MAC representatives are Toledo's Pearson and teammate Brown, Ball State's Jesse Berry, Northern Illinois' Abdel Nadar and Western Michigan's Nate Hutcheson.
The East Division squad is comprised of Ohio teammates D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt, Akron’s Zeke Marshall, Buffalo's Javon McCrea and Bowling Green's A'uston Calhoun.
The MAC regular season gets underway on Friday, November 9 as seven MAC programs take the hardwood. Conference action begins on Wednesday, January 9 as all teams will start to fight for position in the FirstEnergy Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place on March 13-16 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
2012-13 East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ohio – 141 Votes (19 first place votes)
2. Akron – 122 Votes (5)
3. Kent State – 89 Votes
4. Buffalo – 68 Votes
5. Bowling Green – 53 Votes
Miami – 31 Votes
2012-13 East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Zeke Marshall, Akron
A’uston Calhoun, Bowling Green
Javon McCrea, Buffalo
Walter Offutt, Ohio
D.J. Cooper, Ohio
2012-13 West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Toledo – 143 Votes (20 first place votes)
2. Eastern Michigan – 118 Votes (4)
3. Western Michigan – 88 Votes
4. Ball State – 74 Votes
5. Northern Illinois – 46 Votes
Central Michigan – 35 Votes
2012-13 West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Jesse Berry, Ball State
Abdel Nader, Northern Illinois
Rian Pearson, Toledo
Julius Brown, Toledo
Nate Hutcheson, Western Michigan
FirstEnergy MAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Winner: Ohio (18), Akron (6)