Last season the West dominated the MAC with the top two regular-season teams (Central Michigan and Ball State), the fourth best team (Northern Illinois) and the tournament champion (Toledo). Preseason results this year are pretty much the same.
On paper, only Buffalo in the East challenges Ball State, Central and Toledo. Bowling Green and Miami have solid 8-3 records but against lesser competition.
Here’s the breakdown of the MAC East after the preseason:
- RPI: 30 (of 349 teams).
- Schedule Strength: 100.
- Preseason MAC prediction: First in East.
- Overview: The Bulls went through last year’s non-conference season with a league best 10-1 record but faded to fourth place in the East. We’ll see if they can do better this season. The Bulls have everyone but leading scorer Joanna Smith back, along with a good freshman class and some transfers. In the last week, they beat 7-4 St. John’s (RPI 25) but lost to 3-8 Niagara (RPI 188), both on the road.
- Top wins: St. John’s (7-4, RPI 25), Clemson (10-3, 138), Nebraska (9-4, 129).
- Top players: Senior Cassie Oursler (13.2 points,1.5 blocks per game, 50 percent shooting percentage), sophomore Summer Hemphill (5.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 59.3 shooting percentage), junior Cierra Dillard (12.3 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 steals).
- Key statistics: 61.1 opponents’ points per game (second in MAC), 36.2 opponents’ shooting percentage (third), 18.9 assists (second), 13.9 steals (second).
- Statistical weakness: Three-point shooting (29.2 percent, 10th).
Bowling Green (8-3)
- RPI: 101.
- Schedule Strength: 213.
- Preseason MAC prediction: Fifth in East.
- Overview: Bowling Green has been well below .500 for three seasons but put together a very solid non-conference record. The Falcons’ statistics, almost across the board, are in the middle of the MAC.
- Top wins: Xavier (7-4, RPI 118), Norfolk State (6-5, 168), Robert Morris (7-4, 228).
- Top players: Junior Carly Santoro (14.7 points, 10.4 rebounds), sophomore Andrea Cecil (12.5 points), junior Sydney Lambert (10.8 points, 1.7 steals, 2.1 three-pointers).
- Key statistics: 67.1 points per game (eighth in MAC), 66.6 points allowed (10th), 71.7 free-throw percentage (fifth).
- Statistical weakness: 38.9 field goal percentage (ninth), 41.2 field goal defense (ninth).
- RPI: 115.
- Schedule Strength: 278.
- Preseason MAC prediction: Fourth in East.
- Overview: Miami has a new coach (former Michigan assistant Megan Duffy) and returns freshman of the year Lauren Dickerson. The Redskins have put together a surprising preseason. Signature win came at IUPUI, currently No. 23 in the Mid-Major Top 25, by 13 points.
- Top wins: IUPUI (8-3, RPI 116), Jacksonville State (4-5, 144), Valparaiso (5-4, 234).
- Top players: Sophomore Lauren Dickerson (MAC-leading 21.5 points per game, 6.0 assists, 3.5 three-pointers), senior Molly McDonagh (6.0 rebounds), senior Megan Galloway (64.7 field goal percentage).
- Key statistics: 73 points per game (fourth in MAC), 62.7 points allowed (fifth), 46.2 field goal percentage (first), 43.2 three-point percentage (first).
- Statistical weakness: Turnover margin (-0.2).
Kent State (7-5)
- RPI: 165.
- Schedule Strength: 254.
- Preseason MAC prediction: Second in East.
- Overview: The Flashes have played three top 50 RPI teams and two more between 50 and 85 but have lost to all of them. They’ve beaten seven teams with RPI ranks below 200. Their last two games was outstanding defensive efforts, holding No. 24 Michigan to 54 points in a losing effort and defending Northeastern Conference champion Robert Morris to 31 in a convincing win.
- Top wins: Robert Morris (7-4, RPI 228), Memphis (5-8, RPI 236).
- Top players: Senior Jordan Korinek (18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 50.3 field goal percentage), grad student McKenna Stephens (9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds).
- Key statistics: 61.4 points allow per game (third in MAC), plus-5.6 rebounding margin (third), 193 made free throws (26 more than any other conference team).
- Statistical weakness: Minus-3.7 turnover margin (12th), 61 points per game (12th).
- RPI: 253.
- Schedule Strength: 276.
- Preseason MAC prediction: Sixth in East.
- Overview: Zips haven’t beaten a team with anything near a winning record. They came within six points of 10-3 Dusquesne on the road. For several years, Akron has had decent non-conference records against weak competition, then struggled in the MAC.
- Top wins: Southern Illinois at Edwardsville (3-8, RPI 227), Eastern Kentucky (3-6, 274).
- Top players: Sophomore Shaunay Edmonds (10.8 points, 4.1 assists) sophomore Haliegh Reinoehl (8.5 rebounds).
- Key statistics: 59.4 points allowed per game (first), 35.3 field goal percentage defense (first), 33.2 three-point percentage (fifth).
- Statistical weakness: 65.1 points scored (10th), 37.1 field goal percentage (11th), minus-2.4 rebounding margin (10th).
- RPI: 127.
- Schedule Strength: 72.
- Preseason MAC prediction: Third in East.
- Overview: This is Ohio’s worst non-conference record since coach Bob Bolden’s first year. The Bobcats had won two straight conference championships and were favored to win the East last season (but didn’t). They played the league’s second toughest schedule this year.
- Top wins: Purdue (9-5, RPI 56), High Point (3-5, 141).
- Top players: Sophomore Amani Burke (13.0 points per game), freshman Cierra Hooks (12.0, 3.2 steals), senior Taylor Agler (4.5 assists, 2.6 steals).
- Key statistics: Plus-13 turnover margin (best in conference by seven), 14.6 steals (first).
- Statistical weakness: Minus-13.4 rebound margin (worst in conference by 10), 36.4 field goal percentage (12th), 45.0 field-goal defense (12th), 26.6 three-point percentage (12th).
MAC statistics, including standings.