Men's MAC Tournament field comes into view

By Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

While the top four seeds in the Mid-American Conference Tournament had already been settled earlier this week, the rest of the field was established after the final regular-season games were played on Saturday.

Kent State (19-12, 9-7 MAC), which earned the fourth seed after winning its last four conference games, will play either No. 5 seed Ball State (15-14, 8-8), No. 8 seed Buffalo (12-19, 7-9) or No. 9 seed Central Michigan (11-19, 4-12) in the third round of the MAC Tournament on Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m.

"We're all 0-0 now, and whoever we play is either gonna be 1-0 or 2-0. So whoever we play is gonna be hot," said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. "We're gonna have to play well and play hard to keep playing."

The Bulls will host the Chippewas in a first-round game Monday night, then the winner of that contest will battle the Cardinals in the second round Wednesday night in Cleveland.

The Golden Flashes are 4-0 against the three teams they could see in the third round.

They defeated Ball State 61-47 on Jan. 12 in Indiana.

Kent State followed that by earning an 87-72 home win over Central Michigan in early Feb., and swept Buffalo (80-68 at UB, 83-81 in overtime in Kent) even though Bulls junior forward Javon McCrea piled up an astounding 65 points and 25 rebounds in the two games. Kent State senior forward Chris Evans hit a game-winning shot over three defenders at the buzzer in overtime of the home win over Buffalo.

Ball State and Kent State both enter the tournament riding four-game league winning streaks and five-game overall winning streaks, best in the MAC.

If the Golden Flashes win their tourney opener, they will battle top-seed Akron (24-6, 14-2) in the semifinals for the second consecutive season on Friday at 6:30. The Zips defeated KSU in last year's tourney 78-74.

Ohio (22-8, 14-2) captured a share of the regular season MAC title along with Akron by defeating Miami on Saturday, but the Zips earned the No. 1 seed by sweeping the season series with the Bobcats. Third-seeded Western Michigan (19-11, 10-6), the MAC West Division champion, will face the team that emerges from a four-team mini-bracket that pits No. 7 seed Eastern Michigan (14-17, 7-9) against No. 10 seed Northern Illinois (5-24, 3-13) and No. 6 seed Bowling Green (13-18, 7-9) against No. 11 seed Miami (8-21, 3-13) in the third round.

The Bobcats also receive a bye to the semifinals, which will be held on Friday, followed by the MAC Tournament Championship Game on Saturday in Cleveland at 6:30 p.m.

Toledo (15-13, 10-6) is not eligible for postseason play this season after receiving a one-year ban from the NCAA for not meeting academic/graduation requirements.

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