MAC Tournament Picks, Preview and Odds

MAC Tournament Picks, Preview and Odds

  • The Mid-American Conference Tournament will be played March 10-12 at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, with the top eight finishers in the 12-team league qualifying.
  • Toledo is the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row. The Rockets lost to No. 5 seed and tournament winner Ohio in the semifinals in 2021.
  •  Read below for analysis and a betting prediction

The Mid-American Conference Tournament will be played March 10-12 at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, which has hosted the tourney since 2000. The top eight regular-season finishers in the 12-team league qualified. The final will played March 12 at 7:30 pm ET on EPSN2.

Regular-season champion Toledo (25-6, 17-3) is the top seed for the second straight season. Defending champion Ohio won as the No. 5 seed a year, beating three higher seeds including the Rockets to reach the NCAA Tournament.

MAC Tournament Odds

Team Odds
#1 Toledo Rockets +165
#2 Ohio Bobcats +240
#3 Kent State Golden Flashes +550
#4 Buffalo Bulls +650
#5 Akron Zips +750
#6 Miami RedHawks +1900
#7 Ball State Cardinals +4200
#8 Central  Michigan Chippewas +18000

Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook, March 8. See the college basketball odds page for individual game odds. 

 

This is a one-bid league, but do not sleep on the MAC when the NCAA Tournament odds are revealed. The MAC tournament winner has won a first-round NCAA game in each of the last three tourneys.

No. 13 seed Ohio beat 2019 champion Virginia 62-58 in the first round 2021 before falling to Creighton. No. 6 seed Buffalo boat-raced Arizona State 91-71 in the first round in 2019 before losing to Texas Tech, and the 13th-seeded Bulls ran past Arizona  89-68 in 2018 before losing to Kentucky the year prior.

Last Five MAC Tournament Winners

MAC Champion Year
Ohio 2021
Not Held 2020
Buffalo 2019
Buffalo 2018
Kent State 2017
Buffalo 2016

The Rockets’ Red Glare

Senior-less Toledo has had a remarkable year while hunting its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1980. The Rockets have won five in a row and are 16-2 since losing 66-63 at Kent State on New Year’s Day, 15-3 ATS.

Behind four players averaging at least 12 points per game, the Rockets lead the MAC in scoring (81.5) and scoring margin (+13.2), both in the top 11 in Division I. Toledo is one of five teams to lead its conference in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense as it awaits release of the projected March Madness bracket.

League MVP contender guard 6’4 Ryan Rollins — 19.2 points, 6.1 rebonds and 3.7 assists — is surrounded by talented wingmen 6’7 JT Shumate (15.7, 6.1), 6 ‘6 Cetric Millner (15.0, 5.8) and 6’2 RayJ Dennis (12.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists). Rollins leads the league with 18 20-point games.

Toledo is No. 65 in the NCAA NET rankings, the highest in the league. Ohio is No. 113, Buffalo 116 and Kent State 130.

Sincerely, Kent State

After a 7-8 start, Kent State is even hotter than favorite Toledo entering the tournament. The Golden Flashes have won 12 games in a row (9-1-2 ATS) and have the most impressive stat in the league, a season sweep of Toledo, something worth remembering when the Final Four odds are posted.

Player of the year candidate Sincere Carry made four free throws in the final 30 seconds in the Flashes 66-63 win over Toledo on Jan. 1. The 72-59 victory at Toledo came easier, and both were marked by defense. Kent State limited the Rockets to 35.1 percent field goal shooting in the pair.

Carry is finishing with a flourish. He had career highs with 42 points and 10 3-pointers in a 93-82 victory over Ball State on Feb. 22. He had 20 points and nine assists in a 70-65 victory over Buffalo last Saturday, avenging an earlier loss.

The Golden Flashes won this tournament as the sixth seed in 2017.

Ohio, Buffalo, Akron in the Mix

Second-choice Ohio kept up with Toledo through the first week of February, but any momentum seemed to dissipate in a 77-62 loss Feb. 8 at Toledo, which swept the season series.  Ohio has lost four of its last five, to contenders Kent State and Akron and bottom-feeders Bowling Green and Northern Illinois last week.

Mark Sears (19.4 points) and Ben Vander Plas (13.9), holdovers from the 2021 team that beat Virginia, are the top scorers.

Akron’s 6’7 forward Enrique Freeman (13.0 points, 11.0 rebounds) is one of six Division I players to average those plateaus.

The is a clear delineation at the top. The Zips has won its last five but were 1-4 against the top three seeds. Buffalo, which has won nine of its last 11, was 1-5 against the top three seeds and lost to Toledo and Kent State last weekend. The Bulls have won four of the last six tournament titles.

MAC Tournament Prediction

It is difficult to beat a relative equal three times in a season … unless you are just better. Georgetown beat St. John’s twice in the regular season, beat the Johnnies in the Big East Tournament finals and beat them a fourth time in the 1985 NCAA championship game.

Given that Kent State is on the same side of the bracket as slumping Ohio, the Golden Flashes are definitely the team to play here, especially at this price.

The pick: Kent State (+550)


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