This past weekend's "MACtion" was pretty straightforward with very little surprises. Favorites went 4-2 against the spread, with the only notable outright loss being the Akron Zips losing at home to Kent State. To some, that result may be shocking, but to me it wasn't. The Zips' main focus is to stay healthy for the conference tournament, while Kent State is battling tooth and nail for positioning and a better chance at securing the MAC's automatic NCAA Tournament bid. The Zips can afford a slip up or two and would still be highly regarded as the best team in the conference (which they are). Also, with a loss comes a teaching point. No team willingly wants to lose a game, but coaches -- whose team is in a position like Akron - would welcome the loss and try to turn it into a teaching moment and get the message across to his players that they are not unbeatable should they continue to play down to the level of their opponents. It'll be interesting to see how Akron bounces back from this rare home loss.
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There are just four games left in the MAC regular season, and the positioning of teams heading into the MAC tournament is still completely up in the air. Tonight's card will play a crucial part in sorting out the logjams in both divisions. The biggest game of the night features the Buffalo Bulls (-7), winners of six straight, hosting Kent State. Both teams are coming off impressive wins, with Buffalo dominating Miami-Ohio and Kent State topping league leaders Akron on the road. The rest of the schedule shapes up as follows: Eastern Michigan at Ball State ( -2.5), Northern Illinois versus Central Michigan (-3), Ohio (-6.5) takes on Miami-Ohio, Toledo (-6) hosts Western Michigan and Bowling Green hosts Akron (-5.5).
This weekly article is a crucial piece of the puzzle to understanding the MAC conference. I have covered every team at least once, and I feel confident in my abilities to break down each team and understand what makes them a good or bad team. It is always tougher to handicap games at the end of the regular season because most teams are looking ahead to the conference tournament. Some teams like Akron (who have all but secured a double-bye) will likely go through the motions and play down to their opponent. However, I have found one spot this week that I absolutely love.
All odds are courtesy of BetOnline
Chalk of the Week
Eastern Michigan @ Ball State (-2.5)
Eastern Michigan is slumping hard. They own a 13-14 overall record and a 5-9 record in conference play. They have lost their last six games , and because of that they are rooted at the bottom of the MAC West Division. I could write five paragraphs on what makes the Broncos a bad team, but I will just stick to a couple of reasons for the sake of time. During the six-game losing streak, the Broncos topped the 80-point mark only once. For the season, they average 72 points, which has them ranked 10 th out of 12 teams. They also rank in the bottom half of the conference in field goal percentage (.438). And lastly, they shoot the three-ball poorly, making only 75 out of 229 attempts, which is second fewest in the conference. I think you get the point. The Broncos are majorly challenged on offense, and their overall play and record is a direct reflection of what happens when the shots aren't falling.
They will be in tough against their next opponent, Ball State, who is on
the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of offensive output. The
Cardinals rank second in scoring offense at 83 points per game, second in
free-throw percentage (.769), third in field goal percentage (.476) and
fourth in total three-point shots made (122/329). To put it bluntly, they
can put up points.
Ball State currently leads the MAC West with a conference record of 8-6 . They own a one-game lead over Toledo and Western Michigan, who both sit at 7-7. The Cardinals are coming off a 109-100 overtime win over Central Michigan. In that game they shot 52 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. To put their situation bluntly, the offense is rolling.
This game is a mismatch on paper, which is why I am salivating at the
thought of getting Ball State by less than three points. Much like the
offense, the home/away records of each team are just as opposite. Eastern
Michigan is 4-9 on the road, while Ball State is 9-5 at home. At this time
in the season, the Cardinals have it all to play for. And if they want to
secure a double-bye into the MAC Tournament, these are the teams they need
to beat to keep their division lead.
Pick: Ball State -2.5, -110
Best & Worst ATS Team
Buffalo: 10-3-1 ATS - The Bulls are the hottest team in the MAC right now. They have won six straight games and have vaulted themselves into contention for a tournament bye and an easier path to earning the conference's auto-bid. They have won their last six games by an average of 15 points per game, with the closest win being a six-point victory and the biggest being 27. The offense has been rolling, and the Bulls have four players averaging double digit points. They will be tested down the stretch , however, going up against the likes of Kent State, Akron, Ohio and Bowling Green.
Eastern Michigan: 4-10 ATS - As mentioned in the above paragraph, the Broncos are a bad basketball team that does very little well. The offense can go missing for extended period of times, and that puts way too much pressure on the defense to perform. Since conference play started, they have been favored in nine games (somehow) and have won four of them. I don't see them being favored for the remainder of the season as they go up against Ball State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan and Toledo. They are going to be an auto-fade for me moving forward.
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