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Mid-American Conference Preview
Mid-American Conference preview
By Gregg Doyel
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
1. Kent State
3. Miami (Ohio)
2. Eastern Michigan
3. Western Michigan
4. Ball State
5. Bowling Green
6. Northern Illinois
7. Central Michigan
Here at SportsLine.com, we have Kent State and Toledo winning their divisions in the Mid-American Conference, which is no big surprise.
Nate Gerwig and Kent State are still at the center of the action in the MAC East.(Getty Images)
The surprise is who we have next: Buffalo in the East, Eastern Michigan in the West.
Buffalo? In three of the past five seasons, the Bulls have won five games or less. That's total, not just conference play.
Eastern Michigan? The Eagles haven't surpassed .500 in any of the past four seasons, and twice have won six or less.
But here they are, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan, legitimate contenders to win their respective division. Some of that is due to down years from above, with Kent State barely clinging to favorite status in the East and Western Michigan expected to take a tumble after winning 26 games a year ago.
But most of it is due to the program-building by Buffalo's Reggie Witherspoon and Eastern Michigan's Jim Boone, who have constructed balanced teams with the ability to score inside and out. As you shall see, such balance is a rare commodity this season in the MAC.
Top three: G DeAndre Haynes, C Nate Gerwig, F Jason Edwin.
On the decline: The Golden Flashes still look like the beast of the east, but just barely. The loss of center John Edwards and two other starters will draw the Golden Flashes back to the field, though Gerwig and Haynes provide a solid inside-out foundation. Newcomers Marcus Crenshaw and Jay Youngblood could be the league's best pair of guard recruits.
Top three:G Turner Battle, F Yassin Idbihi, G Mario Jordan.
On the rise: The Bulls came a long way last season, improving their victory total from five to 17, and if Kent State slips more than a little bitty bit, the Bulls might just leapfrog all the way to the top of the East. All five starters are back, plus three reserves who combined to average almost 25 points per game. That's quality depth.
Top three: G Chet Mason, F Danny Horace, G Josh Hausfeld.
On the rise: Mason and Horace are too good to average a combined 20 points, as they did a year ago. Watch for that total to be closer to 30, especially if freshman point guard Chad Troyer can run the team with a modicum of success.
Top three: G A.W. Hamilton, G Ronny Dawn, C Mark Patton.
On the rise: Even if the Thundering Herd is a little better than a year ago when they went 12-17 (8-10 MAC), they're not close to challenging for a division title -- and next year they join Conference USA. This won't exactly be a triumphant last turn around the MAC.
Top three: F Jeremiah Wood, F Romeo Travis, F Darryl Peterson.
On the decline: The Zips have experienced serious turnover at the top, with a new coach (Keith Dambrot for Dan Hipsher) and a new scoring leader (your guess here for Derrick Tarver). The good news is the return of redshirt junior Peterson, back after averaging 13 points per game as a sophomore. The bad news is just about everything else.
Top three: F Sonny Troutman, F Terren Harbut, F Jeff Halbert.
On the decline: Without either of their starting guards from a year ago, and with the smallest roster in the MAC, Ohio has a recipe for disaster this season. Did we mention the team only has one senior (Harbut) who averaged more than 2.8 points per game last season?
Top three: G Keith Triplett, G Sammy Villegas, G Justin Ingram.
On the rise: Anyone ever told you that a college basketball team is only as good as its guards? It's true, and it's why Toledo is sitting pretty and projected by SportsLine.com to hurdle last season's dominant team, Western Michigan, for MAC supremacy. If either of the Rockets' 6-foot-10 players -- Allen Pinson or Haris Charalambous -- becomes a 10-and-8 kind of player, Toledo will run away with the West.
Top three:F John Bowler, F Markus Austin, F James Jackson.
On the rise: No one in the MAC has a frontcourt like Eastern Michigan, and frankly, no one is even close. Bowler and Jackson are double-double kinds of players, and Austin is a versatile guy with more than 1,000 career points. Senior Michael Ross is the best of a backcourt that won't be able to match some of the other backcourts around the MAC -- but won't necessarily have to, given the quality up front.
Top three: G Ben Reed, F Levi Rost, G Brian Snider.
On the decline: Remember what we said in the Toledo summary about a team being "as good as its guards"? We failed to mentioned that a team also must have, you know, something in the post or risk wasting those guards. Such is the case with the Broncos, whose 26-win total of a year ago could be cut in half after losing enforcers Mike Williams and Anthony Kann. Reed and Snider are a very good backcourt duo, but the frontcourt is in shambles.
Top three: G Dennis Trammell, G Matt McCollom, G Peyton Stovall.
On the rise: Well, what do you know? Another team with great guard play. And just like Toledo and Western Michigan, the Cardinals will have to get solid frontcourt play from some freshmen and former scrubs to make the most of the likes of Trammell, McCollom and Stovall.
Top three: F John Reimold, F Josh Almanson, G Steven Wright.
On the decline: The Falcons were sitting somewhat pretty -- or at least mildly attractive -- until leading scorer Ron Lewis decided this summer to transfer to Ohio State. That left Bowling Green to retool its offense around the perimeter shooting of Reimold (15.1 ppg) and, frankly, not much else.
Top three: F Todd Peterson, G Anthony Maestranzi, C James Hughes.
On the decline: Cover your eyes, Huskies fans. Last season was ugly, and last season Northern Illinois had Marcus Smallwood and P.J. Smith. Both are gone, as is any reason to believe the Huskies will improve on their 5-13 league record from last season.
Top three: G Kevin Nelson, G Tony Browne, F Sefton Barrett.
On the decline: The Chippewas' ride in recent years has been nauseating, with the program winning 20, nine, 25 and six games the past four seasons. Don't look for one of those upswings this season, not with Central Michigan having to break in new starters at point guard and center
F -- John Reimold, Bowling Green
C -- John Bowler, Eastern Michigan
G -- Turner Battle, Buffalo
G -- Keith Triplett, Toledo
G -- Ben Reed, Western Michigan
F -- Chester Mason, Miami (Ohio)
F -- Markus Austin, Eastern Michigan
C -- Nate Gerwig, Kent State
G -- Dennis Trammell, Ball State
G -- Sammy Villegas, Toledo
Player of the year
Keith Triplett, Toledo
Newcomer of the year
Jay Youngblood, Kent State
Danny Horace, Miami
Nice job Corey......
I work at Kent and we love our Flashes but that damn Turner Battle and Buffalo have been a thorn in our side.....hopefully Nate's return and Haynes maturity will help carry us through....
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