Last Saturday's MAC action brought bettors a fairly mixed bag in terms of the closing point-spreads . Favorites covered the spread in just three games, while underdogs cashed in the other three. However, there was only one underdog that won outright, and that was Bowling Green, who defeated Ball State 79-74 as three-point dogs. The "over/under" results were just as split. Three games found their way "over" the total, while three games managed to stay "under" the number. I can assure you that you will not find another mid-major conference that offers up the parity and results that the MAC conference does.
Tomorrow's "MACtion" features all 12 teams in action. The game that jumps out to me as the most intriguing is the Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan (-7.5) contest. Both teams are 12-7 and are separated by just one game for top spot in the MAC West division. Both teams are coming off losses and will be looking to stop the bleeding and get a very important conference win. The rest of the schedule has Bowling Green taking on Central Michigan (-6), Buffalo (-4) taking on Miami-Ohio, Ohio (-6.5) hosting Toledo, Western Michigan hosting Akron (-4.5) and Kent State looking for revenge against 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
Buffalo Bulls @ Miami-Ohio Redhawks (+4)
The Buffalo Bulls are the reigning MAC Champions and have looked nothing like last year's dominant team. They own a 9-10 record SU for the season and have just three wins in six conference games. They are currently three games back of the East-leading Akron Zips and in my opinion have no real shot at catching them. The Bulls come into this game on the heels of a 66-54 win over Western Michigan. That win extended their win streak to two games. The Bulls shot the ball poorly (38 percent), but the defense picked up the slack and was able to limit the Broncos to just 54 points on 32 percent shooting. They were led by Nick Perkins' third double-double this season (21 points, 10 rebounds). Blake Hamilton added 15 points and 10 dimes, while Willie Connor chipped in with 12 points.
The Redhawks come into this game on the heels of a 101-92 loss at the hands of Central Michigan. They have lost five in a row and have only one conference win to speak of. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about backing a team on this kind of losing streak, but I fully believe this is the game they turn it around. The Redhawks have a solid home record (8-3) and are one of the best teams in the conference at covering the number. They have been plagued all season long by shoddy defense, but the Bulls do not have the offensive firepower to exploit such a weakness. Miami-Ohio has played Toledo, Northern Illinois, Akron and Ball State, all teams who were once leading their respective divisions.
I expect this game to be played in half-court sets with very little opportunity for fast-break points. I also expect neither team to go on an extended run and stretch the lead to double digits. Because of that, I believe Miami-Ohio is a very live underdog, and I will not only be playing them on the spread but on the money line as well.
Pick: Miami-Ohio +4, -110
Best and Worst ATS Squads
Western Michigan Broncos - The Western Michigan Broncos aren't a very good basketball team. They own a 6-12 record straight up and have lost six of their last nine games. They are just 2-4 straight up in conference play, but bettors still love them because they simply cover the number they are supposed to. The Broncos have covered the spread in four of their first six conference games, which has them easily at the top of the list. Not even Akron has an ATS record that can compare. The Zips are just 3-3 in conference play and 7-8 ATS overall. If we take a look back at the Broncos outside of conference play, their ATS mark is 9-6, which is still the best mark in the conference. The Broncos host against the aforementioned Zips tomorrow and are getting 4.5 points. Take the points with the Broncos.
Akron, Bowling Green, Miami-Ohio, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ball State and Toledo all have the same conference record of 3-3 ATS. Buffalo and Ohio own 3-2-1 conference records ATS, which has them fractions above the seven previously-mentioned teams.
If we take into account nonconference play as well, the team with the best ATS record is Miami-Ohio with a shocking 9-7 ATS record. The worst team is Ohio at 5-7-1. We can chalk these records up to a number of different things, such as scheduling or even coincidence. I like to think the MAC finally has the parity that is lacking in other Mid-Major conferences.
Central Michigan Chippewas - Despite owning a 12-7 record overall, the Chipps have been a terrible bet at the window so far this year. They are 2-4 SU in conference play and a similar 2-4 ATS. It's somewhat surprising to see Central Michigan being the worst ATS squad considering their offense averages 85 points per game in conference play. However, the Chipps downfall has been their half-court defense. They are allowing conference opponents to score just fewer than 90 points per game. If you give up that many points, and go into all but one game as an underdog, it will be a difficult task for any team to stay within the number. Next up for the Chippewas is a home game against Bowling Green. They are currently laying six points. I would suggest looking elsewhere if you need to play a favorite.
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