Saturday was a crazy day in the MAC conference as underdog and "over" bettors were the beneficiaries. The undefeated Akron Zips almost succumbed to their first loss of the season but pulled out a 91-90 win over the reigning MAC champion Buffalo Bulls. The Zips needed two late free-throws with 2.3 seconds left to not only tie but take the lead and keep their double-digit win streak intact. Over at the Memorial A&C Center in Kent, Ohio, bettors were treated to a 200+ point game thanks to a 105-98 Central Michigan win over Kent State. From a betting perspective, the "over" was the play of the day, going 5-1. Buffalo, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois all covered the spread as dogs, with the Chipps' and Huskies earning outright victories. Eastern Michigan and Ohio easily covered the number as four- and seven-point favourites, respectively.
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Tomorrow's "MACtion" features all 12 teams in action. The East Division is starting to become a one-team division because of the Akron Zips. The Zips are a perfect 8-0 in conference play and have a comfortable three-game lead on their next closest division opponent. The West is much more intriguing, with three teams tied at 5-3 and two teams at 4-4. In terms of scheduling for tomorrow, Ohio (-3.5) takes on Western Michigan, Toledo takes on Ball State (-3.5), Central Michigan travels to Buffalo (-5) to play the Bulls, Kent State squares off against Eastern Michigan (-6), Miami-Ohio takes on Bowling Green and the mighty Zips (-3) tangle with the Huskies of from Northern Illinois.
Moving forward on a weekly basis, I will be breaking down the full MAC slate. Game days are Tuesdays and Saturdays, so there will be plenty of time in between games to digest the results and regroup and fire off some more winners. I'll be focusing on key matchups, teams trending up or down, best ATS squad, letdown spots, live underdogs and lots of picks and predictions. This conference has been kind to me over the years, and I believe it's one of the most underrated conferences to bet on.
All odds are courtesy of BetOnline
Chalk of the Week
Ohio Bobcats (-3.5) @ Western Michigan Broncos
The "Chalk of the Week" play is the Ohio Bobcats. The Bobcats come into this game after a dominating and convincing win on Saturday against Bowling Green. That win pushed the Bobcats to 5-3 in the conference and to within three games of the division-leading Zips. Ohio has won two of their last three games, and in their most recent win they got hot from beyond the arc and racked up 92 total points. They were led in scoring by Kenny Kaminski, who hit seven triples en route to 22 points. Teammate, Jaaron Simmons put up 23 points, while Jordan Dartis had 16 and Rodney Culver pitched in with 12. Ohio shot a staggering 51 percent from beyond the arc and nailed a season-high 18 three-pointers.
Western Michigan, on the other hand, is struggling mightily. The Broncos have lost four straight and haven't put up more than 80 points since a 92-88 win over Kent State back on January 14. The Broncos shot 50 percent from the field last time out, but they turned the ball over 15 times. Good teams don't turn the ball over that frequently, which is why the Broncos find themselves in the division cellar. The Broncos key player is Dylan Frye, who put up 24 points and hauled in 6 rebounds in the last game. Only one other player scored in double digits, which means the offense can go cold for extended periods of time. Because of that, their scoring offense is ranked ninth out of 12 teams, scoring an average of just 74 points per game.
The team with more to play for should get the job done in the game. Ohio is trying to keep pace with Akron for top spot in the East Division, while Western Michigan is simply trying to win a game. This will be just their second home game since Jan 14, but sometimes when you are struggling as bad as they are, playing in front of the home crowd is added pressure. Ohio is the better team in most of the important categories like points per game, points allowed per game, field goal percentage defense, and three-point field goal defense. This game should not even be close.
Lay the points with the Bobcats (-3.5), -110
Akron Zips @ Northern Illinois Huskies ( +3)
The Huskies have been very kind to me this MAC season, and I am going back to the well once again in this massive MAC showdown.
The Huskies come into this game on the heels of a solid road victory over the Toledo Rockets. They covered the spread as a 5.5-point underdog and were led in scoring by Marin Maric, who scored 15 points. In total, five Huskies scored in double figures, with Laytwan Porter scoring 12, Aaric Armstead and Dontel Highsmith scoring 11 and Levi Bradley chipping in with 10. The key play was an Armstead block on the potential game-winning Toledo shot. With this win, the Huskies moved themselves into a tie for top spot in the West division at 5-3 with Ball State and Eastern Michigan. Tomorrow's game against the Zips is a good measuring stick for a team that wants to make noise in the MAC conference.
As mentioned above, Akron comes into this game after surviving a scare at home against the Buffalo Bulls. They were led in scoring by Kwan Cheatham Jr., who poured in 31 points and hauled in seven boards. This was Cheatham Jr's second consecutive 20+ point game. His teammate, Isaiah Johnson, put up a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds. Two other Zips scored in double figures with Antino Jackson and Josh Williams chipping in with 12 points a piece. The Zips are in sole possession of first place with their undefeated record and have showed no signs of slowing down. However, in this specific spot, I expect them to come out flat against a hungry Huskies team who can't afford a slip up.
Give me the Huskies to cover the spread in a close one.
Pick: Northern Illinois Huskies (+3), -110
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