That buzzing you hear around the Mid-American Conference this season belongs to the “Killer B’s”.
Ball State, Bowling Green and Buffalo – yes, Buffalo! – are the toast of the conference and turning heads with their outstanding performances.
Much has been written and said about Ball State and its season-opening wins over Kansas and UCLA, but Bowling Green has been the steadiest team in the conference and Buffalo the most surprising.
The Falcons are 10-1 and off to their best start in 38 years. Not since Antonio Daniels ran the point in the early 1990s has Bowling Green seen a team with so much promise. Perhaps even more impressive, there are very few cupcakes amongst BGSU’s victories. Michigan, Evansville and Detroit Mercy have all been beaten handily by the Falcons.
Keith McLeod has come out of nowhere to lead the MAC in scoring with 21.5 points per game and Brandon Pardon is second in assists with 5.1 per game. The Falcons have been playing unselfish basketball, but won’t be sneaking up on anyone in the conference.
Meanwhile, the feel-good story of the year in the MAC is the sudden emergence of the Buffalo Bulls. Since joining the conference four years ago, Buffalo has been ignored at best and a laughingstock at worst. Perhaps its greatest achievement in recent years has been a late lead last season against North Carolina, in a game it ended up losing.
This season is a different story. Darcel Williams was named conference player of the week for Dec. 3-10 and is scoring almost 17 points a game for the Bulls (6-4), who have already won two more games than they did all of last season.
Whether or not the Bulls can maintain their early success and make some waves in the MAC is unknown, but there is certainly some good vibes to build on in Buffalo.
Rain inside dome causes postponement: Yes, you heard that correctly. Central Michigan’s contest against Northern Iowa on Dec. 22 was postponed with 8:15 remaining in the game after rain started falling inside the UNI Dome.
I’ll spare you the physics involved in helping that to occur, but according to the CMU’s sports information department, patrons attending the game complained about the temperature inside the dome being too cold, prompting the facilities people at UNI to turn the heat up.
But apparently that caused heat to rise to the roof, which condensed and caused sprinkles to fall. After trying to turn the temperature down for 45 minutes, the game was suspended for the players’ safety. There has been no decision on if the game will be completed.
Unfortunately for the Chippewas (3-5), they led the game 57-53 and were trying to pick up their first win on the road this year.
Big win for RedHawks: Miami picked up a big win to help soothe what has been a rough non-conference slate when it upset then-No. 11 Boston College 73-67 on Dec. 20 in the first round of the Outrigger Classic in Hawaii.
In what has been sadly indicative of their season, the RedHawks (3-7) then lost their next two games narrowly to Georgia (64-59) and Iona (57-51).
However, no one in the conference, expect perhaps for Ball State, has played as tough a non-conference schedule. Included in Miami’s seven losses are Xavier, Evansville, Notre Dame and Southern Cal.
Don’t be surprised if the tough schedule helps Miami make a strong conference run.
Early start to conference play: Because of some scheduling quirks, the MAC has already played three conference games and Marshall has run out to a 2-0 record in the MAC East. The Herd has defeated Western Michigan and Northern Illinois.
Anxious in Akron: The Zips (3-7), along with CMU and Toledo are near the top of the race for “Most Disappointing Team” in the conference. Akron had to fight to edge Division III Mount Union 76-70 on Dec. 22 and break a five-game losing streak.
Additionally, coach Dan Hipsher had to dismiss Emmanuel Smith for academic reasons before the game. The junior was Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” in 1999 and had to sit out his freshman year as a non-qualifer under NCAA rules.