The Mid-American Conference enters the month of February with a team ranked in the AP Top 25 and plenty of parity from top to bottom.
The resurgence of Bowling Green has been the biggest surprise this season. It looks like the Falcons will give the Buffalo Bulls fits when it’s MAC Tournament time in Cleveland.
There are still five weeks until the tournament starts, so a lot can happen. Here are our MAC Power Rankings:
1. Bowling Green (15-6, 7-1)
This week: Beat No. 18 Buffalo 92-88 on Friday night
Surprise! No, Bowling Green isn’t the best team in the MAC. Buffalo owns that role. But Bowling Green tops the power rankings because of its win Friday night and its MAC-best record. The Falcons had a sold-out crowd when they hosted the Bulls at the Stroh Center, and they responded by earning their first top-25 win since 2008.
2. Buffalo (19-3, 7-2)
This week: Beat Ball State 83-59 on Tuesday; lost 92-88 at Bowling Green on Friday night
The Bulls’ losses to Bowling Green and Northern Illinois have started to slow down all the momentum they gained during nonconference season. There’s no question Buffalo (ranked No. 18 as of Sunday night) has the best talent from top to bottom in the league, but another conference loss could take it out of the at-large bid contention.
3. Toledo (18-4, 6-3)
This week: Beat Miami on the road 66-63 on Tuesday; beat Northern Illinois 69-55 on Saturday
Bowling Green and Buffalo have set the bar at the top of the MAC, but the Rockets aren’t far off. Coach Tod Kowalczyk always has the Rockets in the mix for a first-round bye and a contender in Cleveland. Senior Nate Navigato has knocked down 62 3-pointers this season.
4. Kent State (16-5, 5-3)
This week: Won at Ball State 83-80 on Saturday
The Golden Flashes are led by Jaylin Walker, who is always an offensive threat. He played a key role in getting Kent State to the NCAA Tournament two years ago. Now in his final season, he’s averaging 22.9 points per game, the best in his career. Walker keeps the Golden Flashes in contention for a first-round bye.
5. Akron (13-8, 5-3)
spoiled Ohio’s big day Saturday, when the Zips beat the Bobcats during The Convo’s 50th birthday celebration. Former Ohio coach Groce liked what he saw out of the Zips defensively in their first road win of the season, and they’re gaining some momentum. A trip to Toledo is next, which will test the Zips.
6. Central Michigan (16-6, 5-4)
This week: Beat Eastern Michigan 86-82 on Tuesday; beat Western Michigan 85-64 on Saturday
Larry Austin Jr. is keeping things interesting in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The senior guard is averaging 17.6 points per game, good for fifth in the conference. He’s also averaging 5.6 assists per game, which leads the MAC. The middle of the MAC is very similar, but Austin is making the case for the Chippewas stronger.
7. Northern Illinois (12-10, 5-4)
The Huskies have picked up signature wins as of late. They defeated Ohio earlier in the week to complete the season sweep and knocked off Buffalo for the Bulls’ first MAC loss of the season. The Huskies are picking up momentum, and the trip to DeKalb, Illinois, isn’t one many teams want to make in February.
8. Miami (12-10, 4-5)
This week: Lost to Toledo 66-63 on Tuesday; beat Eastern Michigan on the road 59-48 on Saturday
The RedHawks were a tight loss away from a great week, falling short against Toledo before blasting Eastern Michigan. Still, they’re starting to pick up momentum headed into the most crucial weeks of conference play. Second-year coach Jack Owens has Miami playing its best basketball at the right time of the season. Still, the RedHawks have two “Battle of the Bricks” games until the postseason starts.
9. Ohio (11-10, 3-6)
This week: Lost at Northern Illinois 71-60 on Tuesday; lost to Akron 65-53 on Saturday
Things seem to have hit rock-bottom around Saul Ball and the Bobcats. With that being said, Ohio still has a winning record, wins over good nonconference opponents and nine games left to turn things around. The bad news is they’ll have to travel to Oxford after a mid-week bye to take on Miami.
10. Ball State (11-11, 2-7)
This week: Lost at Buffalo 83-59 on Tuesday; lost to Kent State 83-80 on Saturday
After a preseason filled with hope and a Ball State team that was set to contend to be one of the top teams in the MAC, the Cardinals have underperformed to this point in the season. On paper, Cardinals’ star player Tayler Persons’ stats are up from last season, but not the Cardinals’ record.
11. Eastern Michigan (9-13, 3-6)
This week: Lost to Central Michigan 86-82 on Tuesday; lost to Miami 59-48 on Saturday
The Eagles have lost two straight and five of their last six. After so much turnover over the last few seasons, coach Rob Murphy is in a tough situation and may be entering the hot zone. Eastern Michigan does have a rich basketball history, but the program has been trending downward as of late.
12. Western Michigan (6-15, 0-8)
This week: Lost at Central Michigan 85-64 on Saturday
Western Michigan has yet to win a conference game and have all but fallen out of contention for a home game in the first round of the MAC Tournament. At this point, the Broncos simply need a win.