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What happened to MACsketball?

Rinard's Rundown

By Jordan Rinard, Senior Staff Writer

Once upon a time in the Mid-American Conference, it wasn't far-fetched to see players with real NBA potential. Chris Kaman and Wally Szczerbiak had nice careers in the Association. Because of the high quality basketball in the league during this time, fans wouldn't have batted an eye if the MAC had had multiple teams in the NCAA Tournament.

However, after the 2014-15 season, it's plain to see this time has passed, and maybe for good.

That's not to say that some teams in the MAC aren't having success. Three MAC teams (Toledo, Central Michigan and Western Michigan) are among the top 46 teams in the nation in field goal percentage. Eastern Michigan is fifth in the country in holding opponents to a field goal percentage of 37.5 percent.

EMU is also ninth in steals and is tied at 36th in blocks. Toledo, Ohio and Buffalo place in the top 50 for free throw shooting, and CMU is ranked 15th lowest for turnovers per game with 10.4.

However, no teams in the conference rank in the top 50 for three-point percentage, three-point defense, rebounds or assists, all of which are critical aspects of the game if teams want to make any serious postseason runs.

MAC basketball certainly leaves a lot to be desired. Let's take Miami-Akron on Senior Night as an example. There is no conceivable way that a team that scores 17 points in a half should win; elementary school teams can score 20 points in a half. The Zips managed to give Miami every opportunity to come back, and the RedHawks finally did after being coaxed.

Though there are some decent teams in the MAC this season, they haven't exactly been world-beaters. CMU, Buffalo and Kent State each have at least 20 wins. However, they each have lost six conference games in a year where historical powerhouses like Akron and Ohio have been very inconsistent.

The truth of the matter is that the league hasn't had a signature moment in a non-conference game in years, and that's partly due to the current lack of star power in the MAC. In current 2015 NBA mock drafts, not a single player from the conference is to be found, while some mid-major players are projected for the second round (RJ Hunter from Georgia State, Keifer Sykes from Wisconsin-Green Bay and Treveon Graham from VCU). The last time a MAC player was drafted was in 2003.

Lack of talent in the MAC makes it difficult to compete against Power 5 opponents and obtain air time. Coaches who recruit these players are ultimately responsible, for better or worse.

One thing is for certain: someone will represent the MAC in the NCAA Tournament this year (because the NCAA is apparently more charitable than the Make-A-Wish Foundation) and will likely be blown out by a vastly superior team. Hopefully, with the influx of new coaches in the league, fans shouldn't have to put up with this for too much longer.

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