We are nearing the end of the regular season which will bring with it the end of the Small Conference Game of the Night, but the games have not ended yet. As was the case both Friday and Saturday last week, there are prime choices from the Ivy League for this feature, with co-leaders (in the loss column) Harvard and Penn both in action. However, I am going to pass on both of those games, as well as the very tempting “completely meaningless” game between Dartmouth and Cornell, and instead turn to the Mid-American Conference.
Heading into last weekend, Akron looked like a team that could at least merit some at-large consideration if they fell in the conference tournament finals. They then went out on national television Sunday night and had Ohio University take them to the woodshed in an 81-65 loss that wasn’t even that close. To make things wilder in the MAC, Ohio U then when to Kent State on Wednesday night and lost 68-61 in a game that was not that close either. So, of course, tonight we have Akron traveling to Kent State to wrap up both of their regular seasons (7pm, ESPN2). Based on this past week’s results, Kent State should win this game by about 200 points…though I have a feeling it will be a lot more competitive than that.
With a win tonight, Akron clinches outright the MAC regular season championship. They can also get it with a Buffalo loss on Saturday to Bowling Green. The game may be even bigger for Kent State though, as the Golden Flashes are currently tied for third in the conference with Ohio U, a game ahead of Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green. The conference gives double byes into the quarterfinals for seeds 3 and 4 (and triple byes into the semifinals for the top 2 teams). A win tonight will guarantee Kent State no worse than fourth place and let them avoid two additional games just to get to the quarterfinal round. The byes could be huge in the MAC this year, as Akron, Buffalo, Ohio, and Kent State are all talented enough to win the tournament, and Bowling Green is not far behind those four as a possible dark horse candidate.
COMING TOMORROW: The final regular installment for the 2011-12 season of the Small Conference Game of the Night.