MAC Tournament Odds: Kent State, Toledo Favored

Akron Given Decent Chance to Crash Championship Party

The MAC Tournament odds show that Kent State and Toledo are a step above the rest of the teams in the conference. It’s hard to argue against that, as those two are the best college basketball teams in the MAC. Everybody else is clearly a notch below the top two contenders. Both have the ability to pull a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament and can’t be discounted from your March Madness contest.

Akron is getting a little bit of respect in the MAC Tournament odds, although the Zips will have to pull the upset against Kent State in order to reach the championship game. Ohio and Ball State can’t be discounted, although both teams will have to be playing their best to make any noise in the tournament. The championship game will be aired on ESPN2 on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. All games will be played at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Favorites

KENT Kent State Golden Flashes (+145)

The MAC Tournament odds have Kent State as the favorite after the Golden Flashes finished second in the NCAAB regular season. Kent State does have the highest power rating in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. Jeff Sagarin has Toledo rated one point better. Kent State and Akron split their two games this season with the home team winning each time. The Golden Flashes did need overtime in their win.

Kent State has the best defense in the conference, ranking No. 1 in conference only games and No. 39 in adjusted defensive efficiency overall. The Golden Flashes are capable of forcing turnovers but do allow quite a few offensive rebounds. Kent State is No. 35 in defensive 3-point field goal percentage and No. 66 against the 2-pointer. The Golden Flashes are better than average offensively and played a tough non-conference NCAAB schedule, with losses to Houston and Gonzaga.

TOL Toledo Rockets (+170)

The Toledo Rockets were the regular season MAC champions and their high-powered offense is capable of doing damage. The Rockets were No. 8 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. Toledo shot 40.7% from 3-point range on the season, ranking No. 2 in the nation. The Rockets shot 54% from 2-point range, so they can score from the inside or outside.

But Toledo’s offensive numbers don’t occur without sacrificing some defense, and the Rockets did sacrifice. Toledo was ranked No. 267 in 3-point field goal percentage and No. 264 defending the 2-pointer. The Rockets allowed too many offensive rebounds and don’t force a lot of turnovers. But the Rockets have a shooter’s chance in each and every game.

The Outsiders

AKR Akron Zips (+400)

The MAC Tournament odds have Akron at just +400, which seems a bit low considering the strength of the top two teams. While Kent State gets by defense and Toledo’s strength is offense, Akron is more well-rounded. The Zips were No. 100 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 135 on defense.

The Akron Zips finished several games behind Kent State and three games behind Toledo. Akron split with Kent State and dropped both games to Toledo. The Zips shoot a lot of 3-pointers but are just a little above average shooting from the outside.

OHIO Ohio Bobcats (+1000)

It’s a bit of a jump in the odds to get to the Bobcats, who were 10-8 in MAC play this season. The offense for Ohio is solid, although the defense is nothing to get excited about. Ohio ranked No. 30 in 3-point field goal percentage this season, connecting on 37.1% of its long-range shots.

Ohio wasn’t as good from 2-point range, ranking No. 186. Defensively, the Ohio Bobcats don’t really do anything well. Ohio doesn’t block shots or prevent offensive rebounds and they rank No. 239 in effective field goal percent.

BALL Ball State Cardinals (+1400)

Ball State is another team capable of making some 3-pointers, ranking No. 31 in 3-point field goal percentage. Unfortunately for Ball State Cardinals, the team’s 3-point defense is even worse, allowing 38.2%, which is No. 351 in the nation.

The Cardinals were No. 104 in 2-point field goal percentage, but struggle from the line. Ball State doesn’t turn the ball over a lot and can get some offensive rebounds. The Cardinals are decent defending the 2-pointer but get dinged in the efficiency ratings for not forcing many turnovers.

Projected Championship Matchup

The MAC Tournament odds zero in on the two favorites and it’s hard to argue against the two meeting for the title. The difference between those two and Akron is 3.67 points according to Pomeroy and 2.82 points according to Sagarin. So there is a bit of a gap to the second tier of teams. If things go according to form, Toledo will face the winner of Ohio and Ball State in the semifinals and should have too much firepower for either team.

The Golden Flashes will likely face Akron in the other semifinal game and will be small favorites of about 3 to 4 points. Kent State should win and force a pretty exciting championship game. It will be worth skipping the latest NBA scores and focusing on the MAC game. It’s always interesting to see contrasting styles collide and that should be the case in the MAC. The MAC is tough to call, but believe Kent State offers a decent wager at +145.

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