The first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament has concluded and t's official. March Madness is upon us.
No. 5 seed Eastern Michigan, winner of the West and home of MAC Coach of the Year Rob Murphy? Gone. The Eagles shot 12 percent from the field while scoring 11 first-half points and were knocked out by visiting Northern Illinois, 55-52. Yes, we're talking about 5-25 NIU. EMU was so geared up by its first MAC West title in program history and Murphy's COY Award that 843 fans poured into the Convocation Center for a first-hand look. What I want to know is, What happened to 7-footer Da'Shonte Riley, the Syracuse transfer? He played just four minutes in the season finale and not at all Monday night. There's no mention of why anywhere on the EMU Web site or, as far as I can tell, in any paper in America.
No. 6 Bowling Green, a team that gives UB fits? Outta here. Central Michigan (11-20) knocked off the Falcons, 54-53, shooting 36 percent from two-point range, 54 percent from the foul line --- and 66.7 percent from deep. Freshman Austin McBroom poured in 20 for CMU, which went 8 of 12 from behind the arc. How does BG junior forward A'uston Calhoun, who tortures UB, get off just 7 shots and score but 6 points? Because senior guard Dee Brown let fly 19 times, that's how. Calhoun has to be the most mis-utilized talent in the MAC judging from his numbers against almost everyone but UB. The guy's a monster.
The other two upper seeds held serve Monday night. Toledo rode guard Rian Pearson's eighth points-rebounds double-double of the season to a 60-53 win over Miami. Pearson, a 6-4 sophomore transfer from Wisconsin-Green Bay, had 21 points and 13 boards. Apparently this was the last game for Miami coach Charlie Coles, who reportedly will be retiring. Coles, 70, is one of the all-time great personalities in college basketball and there were a lot of long faces among the Buffalo media when he missed Miami's visit here while being hospitalized with a virus.
In Monday's other game, it was Western Michigan 69-63 over Ball State, which lost 10 of its last 13 and after being tied for the West lead at the start of crossover play. I still think WMU is extremely dangerous on the non-UB side of the bracket.
In UB's bracket, it'll be Toledo against Central Michigan on Wednesday with the winner advancing to Thursday night's quarterfinal against Ohio. That winner gets UB on Friday night.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedMid-American Conference | NCAA Tournament | University at Buffalo