After three more-exciting-than-previously-thought games (and one romp through the meadow), all the teams are converging on Cleveland to sort out this whole basketball thing at Quicken Loans Arena. Akron and Kent State are, as usual, heavy favorites, but I'm divining a different scenario.
12 noon — No. 2 Central Michigan (15-14, 9-7) vs. No. 7 Western Michigan (17-14, 8-8)
CMU senior guards Jordan Bitzer and Robbie Harman are both sharpshooting fiends who combine to shoot over 41 percent from the 3-point line. However, Western has an ace up their non-sleeves. Player of the Year David Kool had 15 second-half points to lead the comeback against Bowling Green in the opening round. He's a microwavable bowl of soup; give him 30 seconds and he'll get hot. Unfortunately, it's going to take more than one flavor to permeate the quarterfinals. CMU 68, WMU 64
2 p.m. — No. 3 Akron (22-9, 12-4) vs. No. 6 Eastern Michigan (17-14, 8-8)
One of Akron's four conference losses was, shockingly, at home to this EMU team. The reason was poor shooting; they were strong in every other aspect of the game. Having the second best field goal percentage in the league, the Zips are probably not going to clank off the rim as often when given a second chance. The Eagles can and will be ornery to stop because of the triumvirate of Brandon Bowdry, Carlos Medlock, and Justin Dobbins. But as ornery as they are, Akron's flat out frustrating when they shoot well. Akron 72, EMU 65
After a rousing overtime win at Ball State, the Ohio Bobcats are headed into the heart of the beast having won four of five games. Unfortunately, two of their losses this year are to Kent State, who have a much better recent run: they've won 13 of their last 14. Even though Ohio leads the MAC in scoring per game (74.4) and Tommy Freeman has been heavily contributing as of late, the Golden Flashes defense is unforgiving. Sorry. Kent State 69, Ohio 60
9 p.m. — No. 4 Miami (13-17, 9-7) vs. No. 5 Buffalo (18-11, 9-7)
Miami is one of those teams you can never read all that well. That record is hardly indicative of a team that almost beat Kentucky and Xavier. Those tough nonconference schedules (they also played New Mexico, Temple, Cincinnati, and Dayton) are what build Charlie Coles-coached teams into tournaments like these. However, Buffalo has the senior advantage. They're one of the most experienced rosters in the country and if they do get past the RedHawks, I will not hesitate to label them as the dark horse to finally reach the NCAA tournament. Buffalo 63, Miami 56