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A Look At The Key Non-Conference Opponents For Each MAC East Team Next Season

The MAC East division has many out of conference challenges,and here are the key match ups.

Mac Tournament Champion Buffalo Bulls
Mac Tournament Champion Buffalo Bulls
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The MAC East out of conference schedules vary in a large multitude of ways. Some schedules are filled with traditional powers from the big five conferences, and others are filled with lower tiered competition and beginning of the year tournaments and showcases. Nonetheless, each team has some interesting games that will shape up how the East Division will come together when conference play starts.

Let's take a look at three key matchups for each MAC East team.

Akron Zips

- 2014-2015 Record: MAC: (9-9), Overall: (21-14)

Key Out of Conference Match ups:

  • November 14th vs Cleveland State*  (Coaches vs Cancer)
  • November 18th @Arkansas (NIT Season Tip Off)
  • November 22nd @Villanova (NIT Season Tip Off)

Outlook: Akron's toughest slate in their conference comes right off the bat. The Zips start regular season against Horizon League's Cleveland State. Cleveland State is coming off of a 19-15 record. This game will be in located in Kent,Ohio*. The Zips then take on Hiram College at home and then go through there toughest stretch in the NIT Tip off facing Arkansas and Villanova on the road. Arkansas comes off a good campaign going 27-9 and second in the Southeastern Conference behind Kentucky. The Razorbacks were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by North Carolina last season. This should be a true test to this Akron's team as their first true road game in Fayetteville. Arkansas has been ravaged by the suspension of three key players,but should be a tough opponent. The last game I have listed is Villanova. Villanova is coming off a 33-3 record. The Wildcats were scary at home posting a 17-0 record on their home court, so this will be a tough match up for the Zips against the defending Big East Champions

Bowling Green Falcons

- 2014-2015 Record: MAC: (11-7), Overall: (21-12)

Key Out of Conference Match Ups:

  • November 14th vs New Orleans
  • November 18th vs Cincinatti (Bill Frack Challenge)
  • December 12th  @Detriot

Outlook: The Falcons led by first year coach Michael Huger start the regular season against New Orleans at home. New Orleans is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Privateers are coming off a down year with a 11-18 record, but have been a tough out in recent years.The next out of conference foe is an in-state team in the Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincinnati, 23-11 last season, is coming off a NCAA tournament bid that ended against the Wildcats out of Kentucky. The Bearcats should be the toughest competition that Bowling Green will face. The next key foe the Falcons face is on the road against Detroit. The Titans are coming off a 15-18 record, but has been a tough out at home with a 10-6 record at Callahan Hall. Detroit and Bowling Green did face off last year with the Falcons taking the win on the road by one.

Buffalo Bulls - MAC Tourney Champions

- 2014-2015 Record:MAC: (12-6), Overall (23-10)

Key Out of Conference Match Ups:

  • December 5th @Duke
  • December 7th @ Iowa State
  • December 22nd @ Virginia Commonwealth

Outlook: The Bulls have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the MAC. The Bulls travel to Durham to face the defending national champions in Duke. Duke does lose noted stars in Jahlil Okafor,Tyus Jones,and Justise Winslow, but Coach K and Duke will be bringing in a loaded recruiting class and are a top ten program and as such, the Bulls will have a very hard time competing with the Blue Devils on the road. Two days after facing Duke in Durham the Bulls head to Ames, Iowa and face Iowa State. The Cyclones are coming off a NCAA tournament appearance and Big 12 tournament championship. The Cyclones have a new head coach, like the Bulls, but Iowa State is nearly unbeatable at home, only losing one contest at home against the Bears of Baylor. Lastly, the Bulls will travel to another NCAA tournament team in Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams lost coach Shaka Smart this off season, but they have been a constant Mid Major success story. The Rams were ousted by D'Angelo Russell and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA tournament, but they will be a tough match up for the Bulls. These are three games are games the Bulls will miss Justin Moss most, who has been dismissed from the program following his expulsion from school.

Kent State Golden Flashes

- 2014-2015 Record: MAC:(12-6), Overall: (23-12)

Key Out Of Conference Match Ups:

  • November 28th @Pittsburgh
  • December 10th vs University of Louisiana Monroe (Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic)
  • December 22nd vs Southern Methodist* (Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic)

Outlook: The Golden Flashes head to Pittsburgh at the end of November to face the Panthers. Pittsburgh finished last season on the outside looking in on the NCAA tournament, but the Panthers did finish 14-4 at home in the Petersen Events Center. The Panthers are always tough under head coach Jamie Dixon and will be a very tough match up for the Golden Flashes. Kent State then has two tough games in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. The first of the two is against the University of Louisiana Monroe. The Warhawks went 24-14 last season. ULM is going to be a team under the radar and that has some momentum coming off their championship appearance in the College Basketball Invitational tournament. Last but certainly not least, the Golden Flashes head to Las Vegas to face Southern Methodist led by coach Larry Brown, who won the American Athletic Conference Tournament and finished their season with a loss to UCLA. The Mustangs may be the toughest opponent on the schedule for Kent this upcoming season. Kent will have there hands full with these three opponents.

Miami (OH) Redhawks

- 2014-2015 Record: MAC:(8-10), Overall: (13-19)

Key Out of Conference Match Ups:

  • November 13th @Xavier
  • November 21st  vs Florida Atlantic (Men against Breast Cancer Challenge)
  • December 22nd @Dayton

Outlook: The Redhawks start the regular season on the road at Xavier. The Musketeers come off an impressive season making it to the sweet sixteen. The Musketeers will give the Redhawks a very tough contest on the road. This in-state contest could turn really ugly for Miami. The next big contest for Miami is against  Florida Atlantic. Florida Atlantic is coming off a bad season with a record of 9-20. This match up is highlighted because it is part of the Men vs Breast Cancer Challenge being held in Oxford this year which will give Miami the home court advantage. Lastly the Redhawks take on Dayton University out of the Atlantic 10. The Flyers are coming off a season were they made the NCAA tournament as an at large bid. This game in Dayton will be a true road test and could be the another in-state out of conference loss for the Redhawks.

Ohio University Bobcats:

- 2014-2015 Record: MAC:(5-13), Overall: (10-20)

Key Out of Conference Match Ups:

  • November 14th vs Florida Gulf Coast
  • November 22nd vs Tulsa ( Ezybonds U.S.  Virgin Island Paradise Jam)
  • December  12th at Cleveland State

Outlook: The Bobcats are coming off a down year in coach Saul Phillips first year a the head man in Athens. Ohio start their season hosting "Dunk City". Florida Gulf Coast beat the Bobcats last year in Athens and should pose a threat to sour the start to Ohio's season. In their next key match up the Bobcat's take on Tulsa in the Virgin Islands. Tulsa finished last year with a respectable record of 24-11. The Golden Hurricane should give the Bobcats all the can handle in St.Thomas. Lastly the Bobcats face the Cleveland State Vikings out of the Horizon league. This game will take place at Quicken Loans Arena the home of Cleveland's beloved Cavaliers.The Vikings will be hard to beat at home after posting a 12-3 record at home.