2020 MAC Tournament Predictions with Betting Odds and Picks
This year's edition of the Mid-American Conference Tournament gets underway on March 9 with four games being played in the first round of the tournament. Seeds five through 12 are all in action, with the winner of those games moving on to the second round where they will be matched up against the top four seeds. From there, the winner of the tournament is designated the Mid-American Tournament Champion and receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 17 with the First-Four play-in games. The first round of games will be played at the campus of the higher seed before shifting to the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse for the quarters, semis and finals.
The Mid-American had about as good a year as possible for a smaller, lesser-known conference. Six teams finished with 17 or more wins, with three more teams sitting at the 16-win mark. The bottom two teams, Miami-Ohio and Western Michigan, combined to go just 25-37 this season, which makes them somewhat respectable considering they went a combined 11-25 in conference play. There is no one team that stands out above the rest as Akron, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Ball State, have taken turns beating each other, which is why the top of the standings looks like a log jam, with Akron just sneaking away with the regular-season title.
This tournament may not give us some aesthetically pleasing basketball, but It'll be competitive, and any result would not shock me.
The Favorite: Akron (+145)
Akron comes into this tournament on a three-game winning streak and will really like their chances at navigating a manageable path the finals where they will have to take on either Ohio/Central Michigan and then Buffalo or Northern Illinois - all teams they've beaten this season with relative ease. Akron ranks fourth in the MAC in terms of offense per game, averaging a shade under 76 points per game while giving up just 66.5 points per game, which has them fourth. Akron also ranks second in the MAC in three-point percentage, connecting on a clip of 36 percent per contest and first in free-throw percentage, which always proves vital late in tight ball games. Akron is led by guard Loren Cristian Jackson, who is averaging close to 20 points per game. He gets secondary scoring help from Tyler Cheese, who chips in with around 16 points per contest. Akron will be looking to win this MAC Tournament for the fourth time in the program's history and just the first time since 2013.
The Contenders: Bowling Green (+900)
The biggest hurdle standing in the way of the Zips and the MAC Tournament championship is Bowling Green. Despite limping into this tournament on a three-game losing streak, the Falcons finished with a 21-10 record and won a lot of close games. Some would say they are lucky, but winning close games is a sign of a mature team and one that isn't afraid of the moment. That maturity could go a long way in this tournament, where the games come fast and furious over the course of five days. The Falcons don't exactly wow you on either side of the court as they rank fifth in scoring (74.5 points per game) and 10th in defense giving up 73 points per game. As the second seed, Bowling Green has given themselves a great chance at getting back to the MAC title game for the second consecutive year (lost to Buffalo last season).
Tournament Matchups Schedule
Game 1: No.8 Ohio vs. No.9 Central Michigan (+5) (7:00 p.m. Monday, March 9)
Game 2: No.5 Buffalo vs. No.12 Miami-Ohio (+9) (7:30 p.m., Monday, March 9)
Game 3: No.7 Toledo vs No.10 Western Michigan (+9.5) (7:00 pm. Monday, March 9)
Game 4: No.6 Kent State vs No.11 Eastern Michigan (+7.5) (7:00 pm. Monday, March 9)
Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs No.1 Akron (12:00 pm. Thursday, March 12)
Game 6: Winner of Game 2 vs No.4 Northern Illinois (2:30 pm. Thursday, March 12)
Game 7: Winner of Game 3 vs No.2 Bowling Green (6:30 pm. Thursday, March 12)
Game 8: Winner of Game 4 vs No.3 Ball State (9:00 pm. Thursday, March 12)
Game 9: Winner of Game 5 vs Winner of Game 6 (7:00 pm. Friday, March 13).
Game 10: Winner of Game 7 vs Winner of Game 8 (9:30 pm. Friday, March 13)
Game 11: Winner of Game 9 vs Winner of Game 10 (7:30 pm. Saturday, March 14)
MAC Tournament Predictions:
Because of how competitive the conference was throughout the course of the season; the outcome of this tournament is very dependent on who prevails from the first batch of games. If any of the higher seeds get knocked out in the opening round, that opens up a great path for the likes of Akron and Bowling Green to get to the finals and fight for the right to represent the MAC in the NCAA Tournament. I believe Akron is the best team in the conference. And with their path from QF to Finals, they should be able to handle any team that stands in their way.
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