Men's Basketball: MAC Matchups

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Tournament’s winner can’t be forecasted

In the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the rule is simple: to know everything means to know nothing.

The weeklong tournament begins today at the home sites of four teams and moves to Cleveland starting with the quarterfinals Thursday. The fifth-seeded Bobcats (17-14, 9-7 MAC) will host Toledo (4-27, 1-15), the 12th and lowest seeded team in the conference.

The MAC has been a crapshoot for most of the decade. The No. 1 seed has made the tournament final only twice since 2005. Last year, the Bobcats shocked the league by winning it all as the No. 9 seed.

This year has been similarly unpredictable. Western Michigan, picked fourth in the West in the preseason poll, won the division and claimed the No. 2 seed. Ohio, widely expected to win the conference in the preseason, struggled before a recent surge brought the team to 9-7 in the league.

“There are a lot of coaches that are starting this tournament (Tuesday) that feel like they’ve got as good a chance as anybody in the tournament,” said coach John Groce. “We’re certainly one of those.”

Ohio’s 10-point loss to Miami on Friday ended its six-game winning streak. The Bobcats, the MAC’s top scoring team going into the game, managed only 66 points Friday, the fewest they’ve scored since Jan. 29 in a 61-60 win at Ball State.

Despite the offensive struggles, Groce said his biggest worry was the Bobcats’ failure to do the little things that were responsible for most of their success this season.

“Being tough got us that win streak,” Groce said. “We didn’t take one charge Friday night. We didn’t get one loose ball Friday night. Those were the things we had been doing in that win streak that had been good to us.”

Still, the Bobcats enter tonight having won nine of their past 12 games and playing some of their best basketball of the season. Senior forward DeVaughn Washington said the team is confident but also humble heading into the tournament.

“For every team, they expect to win it,” Washington said. “Anything can pretty much happen is what we proved last year. We got to be confident but not too
confident.”

vn379506@ohiou.edu

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