CLEVELAND, Ohio - When it comes to Mid-American Conference basketball, the league belongs to the Buffalo Bulls. Everyone else is chasing them in the MAC preseason basketball poll. The Bulls were the unanimous choice to win the MAC’s East Division title for the 2018-2019 season and consensus pick to win the conference tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Buffalo received all 35 votes from selected media and coaches to win the MAC East, and 25 of 35 votes to win the conference tournament. Eastern Michigan (3), Toledo (3), Central Michigan (1), Miami (1), Northern Illinois (1) and Western Michigan (1) were also named to win it all in March.
The Western Michigan Broncos won their 6th straight game and improved to 6-2 (4-0 MAC) on the season after defeating the Central Michigan Chippewas, 35-10, this past Saturday.
The MAC West is projected to be more competitive with Eastern Michigan picked to win it getting 17 first-place votes, followed by Ball State (11), Toledo (5), Western Michigan (1) and Central Michigan (1). Clearly the MAC East is not expected to be much of a challenge for Buffalo, considering Miami, with a talented but young roster, is picked to finish a distant second followed by Kent State, which lost two baseline starters to injury (Danny Pippen) and transfer (Adonis De LaRosa) and Ohio University, which has several injured players.
In a senior-laden conference, the Bulls also landed three players on the five-man preseason All-MAC East Division team. Senior guard C,J, Massinburg, senior forward Jeremy Harris and senior center Nick Perkins were the three Bulls selected along with senior guard Jaylin Walker of Kent State and senior center Demajio Wiggins of Bowling Green. Following is the preseason All-MAC poll and the All-MAC teams.
Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports Almost three months after Alabama beat Georgia for the national championship, teams from across the Football Bowl Subdivision are reconvening on practice fields and inside cold-weather bubbles to begin preparations for the 2018 season. USA TODAY Sports’ overview of what to expect this spring from each FBS league continues with the Mid-American Conference, where a few challengers across both division look to unseat Toledo.
Buffalo Is UB the class of the East? Buffalo won six games in 2017 – the program’s second non-losing season in the past nine years – despite injuries forcing Lance Leipold into using three different starting quarterbacks. All three are back this spring, including the presumed starter: Tyree Jackson is poised for a strong junior year after throwing for at least 294 yards in each of the Bulls’ final four games of last season.
He’ll be throwing to senior Anthony Johnson (76 receptions for 1,356 yards), one of the top receivers from the Group of Five conferences. All told, after scratching out bowl eligibility in Leipold’s third year, there are high expectations for Buffalo entering 2018. The East Division has three or four real contenders; the Bulls are one, along with Akron, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio.
Once part of a Division III dynasty at Wisconsin-Whitewater, Leipold has laid down a relatively similar framework at UB, with the chance for relatively similar results. A strong spring would held set the table for Buffalo’s potential breakout season. SPRING PREVIEWS: ACC Big Ten Big 12 Pac-12 SEC I American C-USA Indy UNHERALDED: The 10 best quarterbacks in Group of Five conferences CRYSTAL BALL: Predicting the top 25 college football teams for 2018 Northern Illinois Too soon to talk about the schedule? Here’s one positive note: NIU should be able to avoid a major quarterback competition. That’s been the case for the past two years, by and large, but the Huskies have a clear-cut starter in sophomore Marcus Childers, the reigning MAC rookie of the year.
Childers went 5-2 as the starter during the regular season. It’s good to have that spot settled, since the Huskies need to round into form before taking on one of the toughest schedules of any team on the Group of Five level. The road games: Iowa, Florida State, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Brigham Young, Akron and Western Michigan. And at home: Utah, Central Michigan, Ohio, Toledo and Miami (Ohio). It’s not easy. On a positive side, however, the Huskies do get CMU and Toledo at home – key dates for the tiebreakers that may end up deciding the West Division.
Ohio Can experience meet potential for Rourke? Ohio will look pretty familiar in 2018 to those who have tracked Frank Solich’s program – experienced along the front seven on defense, as reserves move into starting roles; aided by a few junior-college additions; easily among the league’s best on special teams, as is normally the case; and well-coached and technically sound, as Solich-coached teams tend to be. The difference might come at quarterback. Junior Nathan Rourke flashed more than just potential last fall, his first year as the Bobcats’ starter, with 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions to go with 912 rushing yards and 21 scores. There’s more than a little room for improvement: Rourke and the passing game needed to be balanced out by the run, and struggled when defenses forced the first-year starter to shoulder the heaviest part of the load.
But the potential is there for Rourke and the Bobcats alike. With a strong offensive front and weapons out wide, Ohio’s offense could end up one of the strongest of Solich’s tenure. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports Toledo Can anyone cover Toledo? There will be a new quarterback, likely junior Mitch Guadagni, and it’s probably safe to assume the new guy won’t match Logan Woodside’s combined 73 touchdowns during the past two seasons. But he’ll have help: Toledo is loaded at receiver and full of options at running back. The receiver corps brings back senior Cody Thompson, who was on pace for a monster 2017 before being lost for the year in early October, and he’ll join Diontae Johnson (74 receptions for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns) and Jon’Vea Johnson to give Toledo a fantastic top three. Terry Swanson has moved on after rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a senior, but Jason Candle and the Rockets have sophomore Shakif Seymour ready to take on a larger role – and he was terrific as part of a one-two punch in 2017.
Toledo’s running game will roll through Seymour and junior Art Thompkins, who rushed for 629 yards a season ago. The Rockets’ skill positions will be tough to handle. SPRING GAME DATES Saturday, Mar. 31 Western Michigan Saturday, Apr. 7 Eastern Michigan Friday, Apr. 13 Buffalo Saturday, Apr. 14 Ball State Bowling Green Kent State Toledo Saturday, Apr.
Central Michigan And Buffalo Set To Battle For Mac Download
21 Akron Central Michigan Miami (Ohio) Ohio Saturday, Apr. 28 Northern Illinois EARLY PRESEASON TOP 25 FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL.