Questions this week from Hustle Belt...
1. Right now it looks like Akron/Kent State/Buffalo/Ohio are the top four teams. Beyond them who looks the strongest (not necessarily who will have the best record) and seems like a MAC Tournament sleeper?
To me, the team with the best record is also the team that looks the strongest. Akron appears to be the conference's best team. The are winning and still have 4 home games left in the final 6. They are incredibly balanced...I doubt if any other team in D1 has 7 players averaging between 7 and 10 points a game. They are strong on both sides of the ball and Marshall is really coming into his own. As for a sleeper, in a way it is Kent, but beyond that, I'd like to say my Falcons, but I need to see how they fare against the East first. Teams like EMU can be tough to be in tournaments because they can always play tough D...on the other hand, BG is the only team in the East to fail to get 60 on them.
2. This is the first year MAC Tournament seeding is division agnostic. If it began today the East would have the first five (!) seeds. Can a team from the MAC West get a top-two seed and bye into the semifinals? If not, what's a realistic seed for the West winner?
No, probably not a top-2 bye but they have a shot at a top 4 bye. The standings are distorted right now because those West teams have a huge advantage coming home in that they get to play each other. EMU is 3 back of a top 2 bye and WMU is 4 back...don't see those flipping, but if EMU (or WMU) makes ground up, they could sneak in. My expectation is that the West could end up with the #5 and #6 seeds just based on a much easier schedule.
3. Ernie Zeigler's team up in Central Michigan doesn't seem to be improving. Is he the most likely MAC coach to be fired after the season?
I would think so. He has a pretty thin track record...yes, there are a couple of West Division titles in there, but that isn't worth very much. They have never been in the Top 5 of the conference, and now are in the bottom 5. They are young...but they also have the best recruit to come to the MAC in many years and they still can't produce. The issue is, if Zeigler goes, what does Trey do? Hard to see him staying in Mt. Pleasant. I can't imagine any other MAC Coach getting the boot.
4. WMU coach Steve Hawkins gave two of his starters, Matt Stainbrook and Mike Douglas, one-game suspensions for key road games, Ohio and Kent State, respectively. They lost both games but barely. Let's play "Scruples." If you're coaching your favorite team and one of your key players broke team rules, would you have them sit out a big game?
I think you have to. It isn't an easy thing to do, but I think when the players get the feeling that there isn't any control on them, they can make poorer decisions and it shows up in games. Case in point, in my mind, is Tom Amstutz (which is another sport, I know). Also, if you are going to suspend key guys, do it for a road game. Is the scrupulous?
5. Jason Arkley of the Athens Messenger brought up a neat discussion on Twitter the other day. He talked about Ohio Bobcats players in recent memory who were not very liked by his own fans, D.J. Cooper being one of them. Who from your team did you consider unpopular during his playing days?
That's a really, really good question. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out who it might be...the best I came up with is Kevin Netter...Marc Larson...