Ah, there's nothing like a 25 percent prediction rating in the quarterfinals to stir up the confusion. The top two seeds — Kent State and Central Michigan — forgot to show up (or at least how to shoot a basketball.) My sexy pick of Buffalo turned into a wart-riddled pumpkin, and even Akron had to pull a win out of its mucousy kangaroo pouch to top Eastern Michigan.
A quick rundown of yesterday's results:
Western Michigan 69, Central Michigan 60: Right on cue, David Kool came through with 26 points — 24 of them in the second half. That's just not fair.
Akron 97, Eastern Michigan 89, 2 OT: Here was your game of the tournament. UA's Steve McNees drilled a three as the first overtime buzzer sounded, mere seconds after EMU's Jay Higgins sank one too. Then the Zips put the game away in a rather dull second overtime. All this, despite the Eagles' Carlos Medlock registering 42 points.
Ohio 81, Kent State 64: Ew. The Flashes shot only 36 percent, and Armon Bassett hounded the top seed with 38 points. He also somehow found the time to get 7 assists and save a cat from a tree.
Miami 73, Buffalo 59: Senior Kenny Hayes gave the RedHawks a season-high 27 points. You're welcome.
Okay. Deep breaths. Where's my inhaler? Let's try these semifinal games, which begin Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland:
7 p.m. — No. 7 Western Michigan vs. No. 3 Akron
Any team can plan for David Kool all they want, but as this tournament has shown, eventually he'll go off like a car alarm in Detroit and make the game interesting.
But here's why Akron won their quarterfinal: like the characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force to a stoner, they're fuckin' deep, man. In that first overtime, they had three guys fouled out, including seniors Chris McKnight and Jimmy Conyers, two of their top three scorers. No worries; they still had other folks who could execute and pull out the victory.
The only reason I could see WMU winning is because that double-overtime game took a lot of energy out of Akron, despite their strong bench. But even Kool's back has to start cramping up after carrying his team through this gauntlet. Akron 73, WMU 62
9 p.m. — No. 9 Ohio vs. No. 4 Miami
And I was anxiously looking forward to a Kent State-Buffalo showdown. But this battle of southern Ohio teams shall suffice. As I wrote yesterday about Miami, Charlie Coles teams are usually well-prepped for the tournament. They handled Buffalo's seniors like they were high school seniors. And the hilarious part about all this would be that if they won the MAC … they would still have a losing record, and I would still not count them out in their first-round game.
And given how one player can take over a game and a tournament, I'd say the same about Ohio if they got there. Junior transfer Armon Bassett is playing like Indiana had hoped he would before they dismissed him from the program.
This game reminds me so much of WMU/CMU, and I went with Central, cautiously favoring depth and experience over one-man momentum. Coupled with the fact that it drives me insane to pick Miami, here's one for the Bobcats. Ohio 75, Miami 71
The winners shall wage friendly fisticuffs in the MAC Championship Saturday night on ESPN2. I have no idea who they'll be.