I was very surprised looking back at my season to find that I had only bet the MAC four times all year. I guess maybe the teams at the bottom just weren’t quite shitty enough for my liking, who knows? Buffalo has been a truck all season, and will be looking for their fourth title and the past five years. History should be on their side to at least find themselves in the final, as the number one seed has been in the championship game the past eight years. Looking back at the history of this tournament, the powers that be in the MAC spent way too much time tinkering with things and apparently changed the rules every year. They seem to have come back to earth and started to use some common sense by not using the two divisions in their seeding any longer. None of that might matter anyways when you have the #19 team in the country in your conference.
When and Where: March 11th-16th at campus sites and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH.
Defending Champ: Buffalo Bulls
Who’s Good: Buffalo, Toledo
Who’s Sneaky: Bowling Green, Kent State, Central Michigan
Who Stinks Out Loud: Western Michigan. Dead last in my power numbers and went 2-14 in conference play.
Coolest Team Nickname: Akron Zips. I did a little research because it makes no sense that their mascot is a kangaroo and honestly, I found more questions than answers, including the quote “the current nickname was adopted because of the rising popularity of zippers in use on pants.” Either way, it’s a Kangaroo named Zippy and we’ll leave it at that.
Seeding and Rules: Everyone is in. Twelve team field, top four get a bye, opening rounds at high seeds home gyms, the final three rounds are at “The Q”
Multi-Bid League: Oh yeah. Buffalo is a stone cold lock and I think Toledo has done enough to almost guarantee a spot as well.
Breakdown: Buffalo was damn good last year, and they might be better this year. Rattling off a 16-2 conference record including the last nine in a row, they could go into the big boy tournament on a 12 game winning streak as a red-hot #4 seed. My only concern with them is their defensive efficiency numbers, but they are scoring 84.8 ppg (5th best in the country) which makes up for a little sloppiness on the other end. Their 3 losses this season have all come on the road, the two conference losses were by a combined six points. Toledo is an under-the-radar 25 win team who has been solid all season, but living in the shadow of the Bulls. My numbers make them a pretty solid team and I think they could be a sneaky squad with a chance to upset a six or seven seed in a couple weeks.
My Pick(s): This isn’t as boring as Gonzaga’s WCC and anything can happen no matter your price (ask South Dakota State), but Buffalo is a damn good team. The top three teams by my model’s rankings are Buffalo, Kent State, and Central Michigan. As you can see, the draw isn’t very conducive to that, so basically I’m going to place a couple small bets on some long shots I like and hope that Buffalo gets hit with some late season lethargy knowing that they’re already in with their current resume. On the bottom half, I don’t hate Toledo, but their price is a bit short for my liking. Additionally, they were +200 at home and +400 on the road versus Buffalo this year, so if I want Toledo +300, I can probably have it in the final anyways. Fading Buffalo in any way, shape, or form might be a fool’s errand anyways, so that’s why we’ll keep it small.
I will say, I was tempted by “Field” vs Buffalo at +170, but I think it’s still a terribly short price, as a quarterfinal upset is just so unlikely. If you really want to play against them, you can have a much better number taking a couple longshots you like and then just fading them in the final when/if they get there.
Kent State +2500 (0.10x)
Central Michigan +3300 (0.10x)