The MAC East: 9-0 Buffalo, 9-1 Ohio, then a long drop to the next four

(Updated to include results from 12/28)

Ohio and Buffalo were picked to battle for first place in the MAC Eastern Division, and they have the best records in the conference. Buffalo was ranked third and Ohio fourth in the latest Mid-Major Top 25. Bulls are one of eight unbeaten teams in Division I and have an  RPI of 20, very high for a mid-major and a MAC team. Ohio lost at Michigan, a substantially higher-ranked team than any Buffalo has faced, and was upset Wednesday by North Carolina A&T.

Other teams are far behind. Kent State is the surprise team of the East, having equalled its win total for all of last season.

Buffalo (9-0)

  • RPI 20, schedule strength 144 (opponents’ record 46-46). Preseason poll —second in Eastern Division. Third in latest Mid-Major Poll.
  • Best wins: At Duquesne (72 RPI, 6-7), 71-69. Central Florida (107 RPI, 10-3) 66-65. Niagara (80 RPI, 4-7) 73-63.
  • Key statistics: Allowing conference best 54.1 points a game and has +13.2 rebounding margin (seven better than anyone else in MAC).
  • Top players: 5-8 junior guard Johanna Smith (13.7 points, preseason all-MAC East). 6-1 freshman forward Summer Hemphill (7.0 rebounds and 68.2 shooting percentage). 5-6 junior point guard Stephanie Reid (6.0 assists, 3.0 assist/to ratio, 2.1 steals, preseason all-MAC East).
  • Overview: The Bulls went 8-10 in the conference last season but won the MAC tournament. They were the only team to beat regular-season champion Ohio and did it three times. Coach Felicia Legette-Jack calls her team “the deepest and best in my 28 years of coaching.” She had 20-win teams as a head coach at Indiana and Hofstra. Team website. Nice feature on the team here.

Ohio (9-2)

  • RPI 83, schedule strength 257 (opponents’ record 48-56). Preseason poll — first in East. Fourth in latest Mid-Major Poll.
  • Best wins: Duquesne (72 RPI, 6-7), 64-46. At IUPUI (93 RPI, 8-3) 71-65. Illinois (200 RPI, 6-8), 80-68.
  • Losses: At Michigan (36 RPI, 11-3), 69-46. At North Carolina A&T (266 RPI, 3-9), 63-57.
  • Key stats: Allowing 56.9 ppg (second in MAC) and has +8.3 turnover margin (first). Makes 8.3 three-point shots per game (second), although three-pointer percentage, 40 percent last season, is last at 27.8.
  • Top players: 5-9 senior guard Quiera Lampkins (19.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, preseason all-MAC East). 6-2 senior forward Jasmine Weatherspoon 10.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks. 5-9 junior guard Taylor Agler (transfer from Indiana) 2.8 steals.
  • Overview: Two-time defending conference champion lost all-MAC guard and super three-point shooter Kiyanna Black to graduation. Lampkins and Weatherspoon make formidable post combination. Team website.

Akron (7-4)

  • RPI 197, schedule strength 299 (Division I opponents record 36-54). Preseason poll — third in East.
  • Best wins: At Georgia State (210 RPI, 3-7), 78-66. At Canisius (255 RPI, 2-9), 73-64.
  • Best losses: vs. Elon (30 RPI, 7-4) at holiday tournament, 65-62. At Penn State (59 RPI, 10-3), 84-71. Bucknell (RPI 63, 8-3), 61-47. Duquesne (72 RPI, 6-7), 67-57.
  • Keystats: 28.8 percent field goal defense (second in MAC). 7.6 three-pointers per game (fourth). Generally in the middle of the league in everything.
  • Top players: 5-9 senior guard Hannah Plybon (20.3 points, 2.9 three-pointers, 83.6 foul shooting percentage, 39 points vs. Canisius, preseason all-MAC East). 5-11 senior guard Alex Ricketts (10.4 points, 48.1 shooting percentage). 5-8 senior guard Britany Gordon (transfer from Pittsburgh) (2.1 assist/turnover ratio).
  • Overview: Zips have beaten five weak Division I teams (combined record 9-43) and lost to four good ones (combined record 31-16). They’re 0-2 at home and 5-1 on the road against Division I teams. Team website.

Kent State (6-6)

  • RPI 202, schedule strength 236 (opponents’ record 60-62). Preseason poll — sixth in East.
  • Best wins: vs. Florida Gulf Coast (RPI 166, 8-6), 74-64 at holiday tournament. At Wright State (232 RPI, 8-4), 79-69.
  • Best losses: Western Kentucky (RPI 130, 8-4), 79-73 in overtime at holiday tournament. Robert Morris (RPI 236, 4-6), 68-65 in overtime. Beaten badly by Minnesota (RPI 17), Baylor (27) and Iowa (65).
  • Key stats: 66.3 scoring offense (ninth), 70.5 scoring defense (11th). 72.2 free throw percentage (fourth). First in conference in free throws taken and made. 42.1 percent field goal defense (last).
  • Top players: 5-9 senior guard Larissa Lurken (21.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 92 free throws — 36 more than second place in conference). 6-2 junior forward Jordan Korinek (11.7 points, 44.8 shooting percentage, preseason all-MAC East).
  • Overview: Under new coach Todd Starkey, Flashes have their best non-conference record in six seasons and have won as many games as all last year. Two of their six losses were in overtime. Team website.

Miami (6-7)

  • RPI 233, schedule strength 234 (opponents’ record (54-55). Preseason poll — fifth in East.
  • Best wins: At Austin Peay (RPI 282, 4-7), 73-58. At Northern Kentucky (RPU 274, 3-8), 60-50.
  • Best losses: Cincinnati (RPI 224, 8-4), 49-43. IUPUI (RPI 93, 8-3), 65-53. At Wright State (RPI 232, 8-4), 65-57.
  • Key stats: 59.2 points per game (12th), 35.6 field goal percentage (11th). 73.2 free throw percentage (second).
  • Top players: 5-3 freshman guard Lauren Dickerson (16.2 points, 3.3 assists, 82.4 percent foul shooting, 33.9 three-point percentage, 3.3 assists). 6-0 junior forward Molly McDonagh (6.0 rebounds)
  • Overview:  Division I teams Redhawks have beaten have combined 11-29 record. Dickerson looks like a freshman-of-the-year candidate. Team website.

Bowling Green (4-8)

  • RPI 277, schedule strength 200 (opponents’ record 47-47). Preseason poll — fourth in East.
  • Best wins: Saint Peter’s (RPI 263, 2-9), 73-68, at neutral site. Lafayette (RPI 289, 1-11),69-42 at neutral site.
  • Best losses: Chattanooga (RPI 127, 5-8), 54-49 at neutral site. Cincinnati (RPI 224, 8-4), 68-58. Lost to Virginia Tech (RPI 14), Louisville (24), Virginia (91).
  • Key stats: Scoring 61.0 points per game (11th), 34.6 field goal percentage (12th), +6.5 rebounding margin (second), -3.1 turnover margin (12th).
  • Top players: 5-10 sophomore guard Carly Santoro (12.8 points). 6-2 senior center  Abby Siefker (8.5 rebounds). 5-8 sophomore guard Sydney Lambert (34.8 three-point percentage, 2.1 three-pointers a game).
  • Overview: Only two Division I wins came at neutral site. 0-3 at home and 0-3 on road vs. Division I competition. Team website.

MAC standings

MAC statistics

RPI and strength of schedule from WarrenNolan.com.

 

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