CLEVELAND - The bar is set higher for Bowling Green State University than for any other team in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
The No. 1 seed Falcons are seen as the unmitigated favorites to claim the championship and the automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Yet, those are the kind of expectations that come with a team that has won six consecutive MAC regular-season championships.
And those expectations come with a team led by a two-time conference player of the year and 10 returning letterwinners.
"There's definitely a sense of urgency this year," BG senior Tara Breske said. "We want to make the NCAA tournament, and we want to win the MAC."
The Falcons (25-6, 14-2 MAC) will attempt to move a step closer when they take on No. 4 seed Akron (18-12, 11-5 MAC) in a MAC tournament semifinal at 2:30 p.m. today at Quicken Loans Arena.
BG has defeated Akron in 14 consecutive contests and have lost only twice in 45 outings against the Zips.
The Falcons looked impressive Wednesday against the RedHawks. They scored a season-high point total en route to a 91-58 dismantling of Miami.
Breske led four players in double figures with a season-high 20 points. Lauren Prochaska, the two-time MAC player of the year, added 15.
"This team is determined to play good basketball in this MAC tournament," BG coach Curt Miller said.
"If we're not good enough, we're not good enough. We've proved we're the best team during the season, but best teams don't go to the NCAAs all the time in one-bid leagues.
"So, we just want to play better and play more competitively."
Akron enters the matchup on a roll of its own after defeating Eastern Michigan 72-46 in a quarterfinal match.
It resulted in the Zips reaching the tournament semifinals for only the second time. The victory raised their all-time tournament record to 3-14.
"I've never been past the first round," Akron junior forward Kara Murphy said.
"Just to get a first-round bye this year was great. Now that we're in the semifinals, we have to take care of business."
The Zips, swept by BG during the regular season, shut down Eastern Michigan's potent up-tempo offense by applying stifling man-to-man pressure.
Akron will look to apply the same type of defense against the Falcons, who prevailed by an average of 11 points in the two regular season meetings.
"Overall, we've just gotten so much better," Akron senior guard Ayla Guzzardo said. "Everyone contributes something good to the team. It's a team effort."
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