With the start of the Mid-American Conference schedule for women’s basketball last weekend, it’s time to take stock of where each league team stands. Here are the first MAC power rankings for women’s basketball this season.
1) Buffalo – The Bulls are 10-2 this season and have impressive wins over Nebraska, Clemson, and St. John’s. What’s more, Buffalo already has claimed a road win by beating Akron by 23. UB has done it with defense, allowing just 61.5 points per game to rank second in the league in that category. A 4-0 start in league play is very do-able, and it’s a worthy goal since at the end of January Buffalo faces a tough stretch of road games at Ball State, Ohio, Central Michigan, and Toledo.
2) Ohio – The Bobcats are 7-5 thanks to a home win over Toledo in their MAC opener. But that nearly .500 record does not do justice to a non-conference slate that included five games against teams with an RPI in the top 100 nationally, including a signature win at Purdue. But the road ahead is literally tough – on the upcoming schedule Ohio has games at Central Michigan and Western Michigan as well as a rematch against the Rockets at Savage Arena.
3) Kent State – The Golden Flashes are 8-5 this season after opening league play with a win at Eastern Michigan. But that overall record should be taken with a grain of salt, since KSU’s best victory so far comes against a team with an RPI of 173 – and six of the victories are against teams with RPIs worse than 250. That could change in a hurry, though, if Kent State could claim wins at Northern Illinois, at home against Western Michigan, or at Central Michigan in the coming weeks.
4) Miami – The metrics say the 9-3 RedHawks are a good team with an RPI of 87. But the schedule to this point is one of the weaker ones in the MAC (an opponent’s RPI of 244), so doubts linger. There is no doubt that sophomore guard Lauren Dickerson, who leads the league by averaging 21.3 points per game and is second with 5.8 assists per contest, is hard to stop. As a team Miami will get a chance to prove the doubters wrong as they play at Ball State, host Central Michigan then play at Buffalo for their next three games.
5) Bowling Green – The Falcons are 8-4 this season, although their fourth-quarter struggles in a loss at Western Michigan are disconcerting. But BG already has matched its win total from last season thanks to improvement from players such as Carly Santoro (14.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game) and Andrea Cecil (11.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg). Getting a home win over Eastern Michigan is important to avoid an 0-4 start, since contests against Ball State at home and at Central Michigan follow.
6) Akron – The Zips are at 6-6 this season, but the only win against a team with an RPI better than 253 came against SIU-Edwardsville. Akron also opened MAC play with Buffalo hanging a 23-point loss on them at JAR Arena. Things will not get any easier for the Zips, either, as their upcoming schedule shows road games at Toledo and Ohio before hosting Ball State.
1) Central Michigan – The Chippewas are 9-3 this season, and they claimed a huge road win at Ball State to start league play. Presley Hudson (18.3 ppg) and Tinara Moore (16.1 ppg) are arguably the MAC’s best one-two punch, and Reyna Frost (12.8 ppg, 13.5 rpg) is a powerful third weapon. With three of its next four games at home, CMU has a chance to start MAC play 5-0.
2) Ball State – After an 11-0 non-conference season that included quality wins at Purdue and over Western Kentucky and Butler, the Cardinals opened league play with a four-point home loss to Central Michigan. Ball State will need to bounce back quickly because, after a home game against Miami Wednesday, it will play four of its next five on the road – and the only home game in that span is against MAC East heavyweight Buffalo.
3) Toledo – The Rockets are 9-4 this season after opening MAC play with a disappointing loss at Ohio. While the record is good, UT’s defense has not been up to its usual standards as the Rockets rank eighth in the league in scoring defense (64.5 ppg) and seventh in opponent’s shooting percentage (39.6 percent). Expect Toledo to perk up in the coming weeks as it plays four of its next five in Savage Arena, including a rematch with the Bobcats and a challenge from Ball State.
4) Western Michigan – The Broncos are 8-5 this season after using a big fourth-quarter comeback to beat Bowling Green in their home opener. While WMU played a difficult non-conference schedule, it was unable to defeat those tough opponents: The BG win is the best victory, in terms of RPI, on the schedule. And the road ahead will be difficult as the Broncos play at Buffalo and at Kent State.
5) Northern Illinois – The Huskies are 8-4 this season, but their strength of schedule ranking (in terms of RPI) is second-worst in the MAC behind only Eastern Michigan. Opening with a loss at Miami was not what NIU hoped for; worse, while the Huskies are home for the next two games, the opposition is Kent State and Buffalo, which could prove treacherous.
6) Eastern Michigan – The Eagles are 4-8 this season, including a home loss to Kent State in their league opener. And the victories have come over an NAIA school and three D-I schools with RPIs of 326, 285 and 345. Shudder. Wednesday’s contest at Bowling Green matches EMU with the only MAC team it beat last season, so it’s an important contest for the Eagles.
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