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Pre-tourney MAC Hoops Roundtable

March 4, 2012

Eagle Totem rules the roundtable with an iron claw!

With the end of the regular season, it was once again my turn to pose the questions to my fellow MAC hoops bloggers. I also posed the same questions to the other Eagle Totem contributors. In addition to Eagle Totem, Hustle Belt (with Brandon Hickey, Brown & Gold, and blog manager Matt Sussman answering), Falcon Blog, and Bull Run participated.

1. It seems as though the MAC has been taking an increasingly structured approach to basketball scheduling (a round-robin of divisional play, a round-robin of inter-divisional games, and then the second round-robin of divisional play; most games on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons). What do you think of this approach? Do you want to see more of this structure, or would you rather have a MAC game spread throughout the week?

Matt Sussman:

I’m a creature of habit and think the bulk of games on Wednesday-Saturday is just right. Nor am I opposed to occasionally throwing a game on an irregular night such as Friday, where it could possibly be televised by STO or perhaps ESPNU. What’s important is to expect when games occur so people can get in a regular viewing habit. Having ’em scattered across the week can make it difficult sometimes.

EMU Jeremy:

I’ve always liked the Wedneday/Saturday MAC schedule, it’s always kind of fun to scoreboard-watch while Eastern is playing. I do, however, like the idea of one Sunday or Friday game for increased exposure.

2. With the MAC tournament using division-agnostic seeding, is there a value to continuing to use divisions in basketball? How would you want to see a divisionless basketball season scheduled?

Brandon Hickey:

There is no value anymore in having divisions because of the change in the seeding. The only positive I see for division is for travel purposes, and with limited athletic budgets some schools just can’t afford to make the long trip up to Buffalo or out to Northern Illinois, especially twice a year if you count women’s games. Yes, the MAC East has been superior to the MAC West recently, but that doesn’t mean that couldn’t change. It would be interesting to see how the records would be for each team if they played a balanced schedule rather than the current schedule. The SEC went away from divisions this year and I think the league was more competitive (other than Kentucky). I hope this happens, but I don’t know what the MAC brain-trust thinks about it. They certainly want to improve the MAC and what it offers, but scrapping divisions would be a huge undertaking.

Note: Actually, the SEC, like the MAC, has switched to division-agnostic seeding, but still played a traditional divisional schedule this year.

If the MAC wants to be really innovative, it might be interesting to go with a flexible schedule in which “divisions” were set each year based on performance in the preceding season. One way to do this would be to make balanced divisions each year, with each side of the previous year’s tournament bracket forming the new division. An opposite approch would be a “parity” schedule, in which the top six teams become one division while the bottom six become the other. The advantage here is that struggling teams would get an easier schedule where they could win a few games, while teams with tournament hopes could get the RPI boost of a more challenging schedule.

3. What’s the minimum you still need to see from your team (i.e. tournament performance) to be satisfied with the season?

Bull Run:

I’d like to say MAC title but no team in the conference is so good that fans can expect that as a given.

So I’ll say at least one win in the MAC tournament which gets UB to 20 on the season. Then a decent run in some post season tournament. That might pass my “ok” bar. But I will not be happy with a UB season until the Bulls are dancing.

Ken Bailey:

Given the disarray for the basketball team at the beginning of the season (new coach, having an open tryout, etc), I’m happy with EMU’s performance so far. I didn’t think they would make a showing of the season this year…I would like to see them win at least one in the MAC tournament.

4. Which team is your “dark horse” or “Cinderella” pick for the MAC tournament?

Falcon Blog:

I’m not sure if they qualify as a dark horse, but I think OU could be very tough to beat at the Q.  From the non-bye teams, I could see either BG or EMU making a run.  EMU’s style is tournament-friendly.

Brown & Gold:

I want to say WMU, but I can’t. I’m going to stay in state and go with Eastern. Why? Defense. If the EMUs can hold a decent offense, their D can win games. Why not go with them?

5. Rank ’em.

The correct answer here was:

1. Akron
2. Ohio
3. Buffalo
4. Kent

Honestly, the other 8 teams — yes, that includes EMU — probably have less than a 1% chance each of winning the tournament.

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