Thursday, Jun 30, 2016
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UT, BG women favored in MAC Falcons picked to repeat crown

The rivalry between the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University women's basketball programs hasn't reached the epic level of Ohio State and Michigan's famed "10-Year War" in football.

But the two northwest Ohio schools, which had alternately been the dominant teams in the Mid-American Conference for the last quarter century, seem to be on the verge of a persistent, colossal battle, much like the Buckeyes and Wolverines waged in the 1970s.

The Rockets and Falcons were picked to win their respective divisions in the MAC for thesecond year in a row Wednesday, seven months after going toe-to-toe in the conference title game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. BGSU prevailed that day for the MAC championship, and is the favorite of the conference's media and coaches to repeat next March.

The Falcons, who have won six straight MAC regular-season crowns, are also picked to repeat as MAC tournament champions.

BGSU coach Curt Miller doesn't see his team as the favorite, however.

"And I believe we would all agree across the board that we have great parity, but Toledo may be the team to beat this year on paper. They are loaded at all the positions," Miller said.

UT coach Tricia Cullop took a different stance, saying BGSU is the top contender for another MAC title.

"I would disagree [with Miller]," Cullop said. "He's got the [reigning] MVP of the league [Lauren Prochaska] and I think he's got some scorers that have proven themselves. [Tracy] Pontius is a tremendous 3-point shooter, and [Danielle] Havel is a nice transfer from DePaul who is be able to play this year.

"So I don't think necessarily that the bull's-eye will be completely on our backs. There are a lot of teams in this league that have a lot of ability and have the capability of winning our league," Cullop added. "I think BG is one of those teams. Obviously we won our division last year, but it doesn't mean anything is guaranteed this year."

Expected to challenge the Rockets for the West Division title, in predicted order of finish, were Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan.

In the East preseason poll, BGSU was followed by Kent State, Miami, Akron, Ohio, and Buffalo.

"I think the MAC is as deep as it's ever been," Miller said.

"It's fun to see, and I look forward to the challenges in the MAC."

Leading the way for the Falcons is Prochaska, who was joined on the preseason All-MAC East Division team by Akron's Kara Murphy, Buffalo's Kourtney Brown, Kent State's Jamilah Humes, and Miami's Courtney

Osborn.

Headlining the MAC West preseason team was UT junior point guard Naama Shafir, along with Ball State's Emily Maggert, Eastern Michigan's Tavelyn James, Northern Illinois' Marke Freeman, and Western Michigan's Miame Giden.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.

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