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3 Things: Opening night in the MAC

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Tuesday night MACtion! Here’s what you missed.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

While most conferences started league play before New Year’s, the MAC waited. Tuesday night, all 12 teams were in action, as the league finally tipped off.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night’s action.

Zips ball, Chips stall

Akron came into Tuesday’s game with an offense that was ranked in the top-50 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings. Central Michigan was not far behind, coming in just outside the top 50. Only one of those teams played to that standard in the conference opener.

Akron poured in points at will, and outlasted Bowling Green for an 89-84 victory. Jimond Ivey scored a career-high 23 points as the Zips scored above 80 for the third time in four games. Their potent offensive attack is why they’re the favorites in the East division.

On the other hand, Central Michigan came into the night with the nation’s leading scorer in Marcus Keene. The guard scored 22 points, which is eight points under his season average, and only shot 6-20 from the floor. The Chippewas’ up-tempo play had them averaging 91 points per game coming into the game, but the length and athleticism of Eastern Michigan propelled the Eagles to a convincing 85-63 win.

Rockets flying high

Toledo picked up its fourth-straight win in an 86-54 blowout over Buffalo. The Rockets spent most of their non-conference play away from Savage Arena, but each win from their current streak has come on their home hardwood.

Jonathan Williams has been playing the best ball of his career, and his 26-point outing was his seventh-straight game cracking the 20-point mark. Sophomore Jaelan Sanford poured in 22 points of his own to aid the efforts.

The Rockets have games against Miami (OH) and Western Michigan on the horizon, and picking up wins in both of those would put them in a great spot in the West Division.

Miami wins a nail-biter

Miami (OH) came into Tuesday night’s game ranked over 100 spots lower than Northern Illinois in the KenPom rankings. The Huskies had won their last four games, and Miami only had one win against the top 200.

Not that any of that mattered, as the Redhawks closed out a 69-67 victory on their home court. The biggest factor in this one was the disparity in three-point shooting. Miami hit 11-24 from downtown, while the Huskies shot an ice-cold 4-17.

It will be interesting to see if the Redhawks can maintain this momentum moving forward. KenPom has them projected to lose all but one game (vs. Western Michigan) the rest of the season, and they get road games against Toledo and Ball State to start.

Tuesday’s Scores:

Eastern Michigan 85 Central Michigan 63
Kent State 100 Ball State 90
Akron 89 Bowling Green 84
Miami OH 69 Northern Illinois 67
Toledo 86 Buffalo 54
Ohio 89 Western Michigan 58