A three-peat of the Mid-American Conference title by the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team is not expected, according to a preseason poll of coaches and media.
The Bulls are picked for third in the East Division of the MAC behind Akron and Ohio. UB has almost everyone back from last year’s team, which finished third in the MAC East at 10-8. Akron was first at 13-5 and Ohio was 11-7. UB upset Ohio in the quarterfinals, then upset Akron in the title game to go to its second straight NCAA Tournament.
Akron, which has posted 11 straight 20-win seasons, returns three starters, including first-team all-star center Isaiah “Big Dog” Johnson. Ohio returns four starters, including center Antonio Campbell, the MAC player of the year.
UB has three starters back after losing point guard Lamonte Bearden to transfer and off guard Jarryn Skeete to graduation. But the Bulls have all their other key contributors back and brought in a top-rated recruiting class.
UB senior wing Blake Hamilton, who hit the winning three-pointer in the final seconds to beat Akron in the title game, was a preseason all-East pick. The MAC’s 12 coaches and 24 media members participated in the poll.
2016-17 MAC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
MAC East (with points)
1. Akron (15 first-place votes) 194.
2. Ohio (16) 190.
3. Buffalo (5) 144.
4. Kent State 116.
5. Bowling Green 63.
6. Miami 49.
1. Eastern Michigan (16) 178.
2. Ball State (12) 158.
3. NIU (5) 148.
4. Toledo (1) 100.
5. Western Michigan 95.
6. Central Michigan (2) 77.
2017 MAC Tournament Predicted Champion: Akron (15), Ohio (11), Eastern Michigan (3), Buffalo (2), NIU (2), Central Michigan (1), Kent State (1), Miami (1).
Preseason All-MAC East
Isaiah Johnson, Sr., C, Akron
Blake Hamilton, Sr., W, Buffalo
Jimmy Hall, Sr., F, Kent State
Antonio Campbell, Sr., F, Ohio
Jaaron Simmons, Jr., G, Ohio
Preseason All-MAC West
Franko House, Sr., F, Ball State
James Thompson IV, So., C, Eastern Michigan
Marin Maric, Sr., C, Northern Illinois
Jonathan Williams, Sr., G, Toledo
Thomas Wilder, Jr., G, Western Michigan