After 77-50 preseason, MAC looks like a top 10 conference

(Updated to include games of 12-28)

It looks like a good year for the MAC.

Consider:

  • Buffalo is one of eight undefeated teams in the country at 9-0
  • Five of the league’s 12 teams have records of 8-4 or better. (Ohio is 9-1, Toledo and Western Michigan 9-2, and Central Michigan 8-3).
  • Eight have winning records. Kent State is at .500 (6-6).
  • League non-conference record is 77-50 against Division I competition.
  • Two MAC teams are in the top 100 in RPI. Buffalo is 20, Ohio 83rd.
  • The conference RPI is 10th best in the country, third among mid-major conferences. The Colonial League (William & Mary, Drexel, Elon) is first. West Coast Conference (Gonzaga, San Diego, BYU) is second.
  • Four MAC teams are in the latest Mid-Major Top 25, most of any conference. Buffalo is third, Ohio fourth, Toledo 20th, Central Michigan 23rd.

All that isn’t hugely different then last season, when the league ranked 11th in RPI. But it is better, pretty much across the board.

MAC RPIs are Buffalo (20th of 349 teams), Ohio (83), Toledo (102), Northern Illinois (122), Central Michigan (184), Western Michigan (185), Akron (197), Kent State (202), Miami (233), Ball State (235), Eastern Michigan (251) and Bowling Green (277).

No MAC team has an RPI above 300, the first time that’s happened in several years.

The rub in all that is that MAC teams haven’t beaten a really good team. They’ve beaten some power conference schools — Illinois of the Big Ten, Butler of the Big East, but both are below average teams.

But the highest RPI team anyone in the MAC has beaten is No. 72 Duquesne, which doesn’t even have a winning record (6-7). The only other top 100 teams the MAC has beaten are Niagara (80th but 4-7) and Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis (93rd and 9-3).

The MAC’s RPI score has come from winning a lot of games against lower-ranking leagues and playing and losing to some top teams.

The league’s best loss is probably Toledo’s 77-75 defeat at the hands of No. 29 (No. 10 in AP Poll) UCLA. Western Michigan took No. 31  Michigan State to overtime before losing 68-64.

MAC teams have lost to No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 27 (No. 3 in AP) Baylor and No. 24 (No. 8 in AP) Louisville.

But overall schedule strength is not good. Buffalo’s is best at 159th. Its opponents have a 46-46 record. Bowling Green is second at 200. Then come Toledo (215), NIU (223), Miami (234), Kent State (236), Ohio (257),  and Akron (299), Central Michigan (295), Ball State (302) and Western Michigan (343). Not one set of opponents has a winning record.

Non-conference plays ends Thursday, when Buffalo plays at 9-4 Fordham (97 RPI, 9-4). League play begins Saturday.

RPI is a way of ranking teams based on their records and strength of schedule. Rankings are based 25 percent on a team’s record, 50 percent on their opponents’ record, and 25 percent on their opponents’ opponents’ record. Road wins are weighted at 1.4, home wins at 0.6. RPI is used to some extent to determine seedings in the NCAA tournament.

MAC standings

Current MAC statistics

RPI rankings are from WarrenNolan.com.

 

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