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2016-17 Preseason Power Rankings: The MAC

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Akron projects as a key contender in the MAC once again.

NCAA Basketball: MAC Conference Tournament-Akron vs Buffalo Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue with our season previews, the MAC is up next. Last season, the MAC saw a few postseason tournament berths. There are a lot of teams in the middle this year that could make their way to the top of the conference. Akron, Ohio and Buffalo remain at the top, just as they finished last season.

As for the rest? Let’s take a look.

1. Akron Zips

The Zips lose three key contributors in Jake Kretzer (8.3 points per game), Reggie McAdams (11.3), and Pat Forsynthe (8.6). But what returns for Akron might be just as important as what has departed. A trio of double-digit scorers in Isaiah Johnson (13.6 ppg), Antino Jackson (11.6), and Noah Robotham (9.7 ppg) should keep the Zips at the top of the conference.

2. Ohio Bobcats

After declaring for the NBA Draft, Bobcats star forward Antonio Campbell decided to return for his senior season as Ohio continues to trend upward. After going 10-20 in 2014-15, the Bobcats went undefeated at home last year en route to a berth in the CBI Tournament.

3. Buffalo Bulls

The Bulls highlighted their season by making a run in the MAC Tournament. They showed they have the ability to play well and continue that in to next season. They lose Jarryn Skeek, who averaged 7.9 points per game, but return Blake Hamilton (13.1 ppg), Willie Conner (11.3) and CJ Massinburg (11.3 ppg). With their offensive weapons, they should be able to compete at the top of the MAC.

4. Northern Illinois Huskies

The Huskies return Marin Maric, Travon Baker, Aaric Armstead, and Marshawn Wilson, who all averaged double figures scoring last season. If they continue to develop as an offensive threat, NIU could make some noise.

5. Ball State Cardinals

Ball State finished first in the MAC West last year but lose Bo Calhoun who averaged 10.7 ppg. They return Ryan Weber, who averaged 10.5 ppg. Can they do it again? They have plenty of depth on the roster and may be able to take the West crown again.

6. Kent State Golden Flashes

The Golden Flashes finished third in the East last year, but lost three of their final four regular season games and bowed out in the first round of the MAC Tournament. They lose Xavier Pollard and Chris Ortiz, but return leading scorer Jimmy Hall (16.4 ppg) as they look to stay consistent all season.

7. Central Michigan Chippewas

Bryalon Rayson will be the Chippewas’ leader as they look to rebound from a year plagued by inconsistency. Rayson averaged 16.3 points per game, helped by a 38 percent mark from three.

8. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Michigan retains most of its roster from last season, only losing one senior in Brandon Nazione. Leading scorer Raven Lee (15.1 ppg) returns along with James Thompson (14.8 ppg), Willie Mangum (12.0 ppg) and Ty Toney (11.0 ppg). Eastern Michigan has a daunting non-conference schedule, but it should serve them well in preparing them for life in the MAC West.

9. Toledo Rockets

Toledo finished second-to-last in the MAC West last season, with only Western Michigan falling behind them, and things won’t get any easier as the Rockets lost leading scorer Nathan Boothe to graduation and Stuckey Mosely (10.2 ppg) is transferring.

They return their remaining three starters, however, in Johnathon Williams (17.6 ppg), Nate Navigato (8.4 ppg), and Jaelan Stanford (8.2 ppg). They should be able to improve this season, but it will take a lot of noise from the Rockets to finish in the top half of the conference.

10. Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan returns its two leading scorers in Tucker Haymond (15.9 ppg) and Thomas Wilder (18.0 ppg). They lost a lot of close games last year but if Haymond and Wilder continue to develop this season, they should be able to win more games.

11. Bowling Green Falcons

Bowling Green loses its leading scorer, Spencer Parker to graduation. Although they return David Joseph, Zach Denny and Wesley Alcegaire, Bowling Green may have another underwhelming season.

12. Miami-Ohio RedHawks

Miami loses Geovonie McNight (13.2 ppg) and Eric Washington (13.9 ppg). Without their leading scores and seven total players graduating, Miami looks like it may have a tough season ahead.

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It’s set to be an exciting year in the MAC given all the talent returning. Let us know in the comments if you agree with our rankings!