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RECAP: Looking back: What did the women’s basketball preseason poll get right?

Brittany Lucia
Kent State Golden Flashes huddle during the women’s basketball game against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 24, 2024.

As the regular season is beginning to wind down and teams are fighting for seeding in the MAC tournament, let’s see how accurate the coaches’ preseason predictions were.

No. 1 Ball State Cardinals (22-3, 11-1), preseason No. 2

Ball State received a single first-place vote in the preseason, and right now, they’re looking to make the other 11 coaches regret giving Toledo the rest. 

The Cardinals’ only conference loss came on the road to Northern Illinois on Feb. 7. 

They have key wins over Buffalo, Toledo and Kent State, who all sit in the top four with Ball State.

The Cardinals will be tested down the stretch, as three of their last five opponents are Toledo, Kent State and Buffalo.  

No. 2 Toledo Rockets (19-4, 11-1), preseason No. 1

After winning the regular season crown last season, the Rockets then went on to win the conference tournament. They again are in a position to do so, but on Jan. 21, a loss to Ball State currently gives the Cardinals the tiebreaker. 

Toledo will have a chance to claim sole possession of first place when they face off against the Cardinals for a second time on Feb 24.

The Rockets’ biggest wins at the moment are over Kent State and Buffalo.

No. 3 Kent State Golden Flashes (15-7, 10-2), preseason No. 3

The Flashes cap off a near-perfect top three for the coaches poll.

They have been efficient, slowly outplaying their opponents over the course of the game.

However, they have shown that they aren’t a top dog in the MAC, as they have lost to both teams ahead of them.

They will look to show that they can compete with the MAC’s best when they play at Toledo to close out the regular season on March 9. 

No. 4 Buffalo Bulls (14-9, 7-5), preseason No. 8

The Bulls have over-performed this season, up four spots from where the coaches expected. However, just by looking at the standings, it’s evident they aren’t at the level of the top three, as they sit three games behind Kent State. 

They have lost to each team in the top three once and will have to play Kent State and Ball State again. 

Even though they are not in the same class as the top quarter of the conference, it is a good sign for the program to have a season like this after finishing eighth last year.

No. 5 Bowling Green Falcons (12-11 6-6), preseason No. 4

Bowling Green is just under where they were voted to land. 

The Falcons have lost to everyone ahead of them once, except Toledo, whom they lost to twice. They also have a loss to Miami, who they should have beaten.

Bowling Green will have a chance to possibly boost their position, as they only have one remaining game against a team that is currently in the top four.

No. 6 Western Michigan Broncos (10-13, 5-7) preseason No. 10

Though the Broncos have a sub-.500 overall record and sub-.500 MAC record, they find themselves in the top half of the conference, well ahead of their preseason projection. 

They have had to play a schedule that hasn’t been particularly easy, but they did beat Buffalo on Jan. 20. Their win over Northern Illinois currently gives them the tiebreaker over the Huskies.

The next few games will be crucial for the Broncos due to the fact that they start March with matchups against Toledo and Bowling Green.

No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies (12-12, 5-7), preseason No. 5

If the MAC tournament started today, NIU would be seventh because they lost to Western Michigan last month. However, the Huskies will get to play the Broncos again to end the season, so they will have the chance to change that if they stay within striking distance.

The Huskies’ biggest win is one of the best in the MAC this season. It came at home on Feb. 7 against Ball State when they took down the Cardinals 76-71.

No. 8 Ohio Bobcats (7-16, 4-8), preseason No. 9

The Bobcats are currently knotted with Miami and Akron in a three-way tie for the final spot in the MAC tournament. Two of the four conference wins for Ohio came against Miami and Akron, giving them the advantage in the tiebreaker for the moment.

What may end up being two of their biggest games of the season come on March 6 and March 9, when they play at Akron and Miami. Those two games could decide who is the last team in the conference tournament.

No. 9 Miami RedHawks (7-16, 4-8), preseason No. 12

After being voted to finish last in the MAC, Miami is in a position to make the conference tournament. They lost to Ohio but beat Akron, resulting in the RedHawks being wedged in between those two in the three-way tie. 

They do not play Akron again, but their final game of the season against NIU may be a make-or-break game when it comes to making the top eight and earning a spot in the MAC tournament.

The RedHawks have shown that they can play at a quality level, as they have beaten Western Michigan twice and Bowling Green once.

No. 10 Akron Zips (9-14, 4-8), preseason No. 6

The Zips have not been as good as they were expected, as they would technically end up being tenth if the season ended today, even though they are in a three-way tie for eighth. 

They are on the short end of things right now, losing to each of the two teams they are tied with, and what’s worse is that they will not be able to avenge their loss against Miami, as the Feb. 3 loss was the only matchup between the two teams.

However, they will play Ohio again on March 6, so they will have a chance to avenge that loss. 

Every game is important for Akron, as they need to be separated from Ohio and Miami because a tie with Miami will result in the RedHawks getting the advantage, and a three-way tie would result in either Ohio or Miami getting the advantage. 

No. 11 Central Michigan Chippewas (5-17, 3-9), preseason No. 11

The Chippewas are where they were expected to be, sitting near the bottom of the conference.

They do have a solid win against Western Michigan and a win against Miami, which may end up being a factor in a tie-breaking situation, should it arise. 

They have lost to Akron and Ohio, which hurts them in a tie-breaking situation, but they will play each team again, and they will play Miami again, so they will have the chance to surpass each of the three teams ahead of them that are in a three-way tie.

No. 12 Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-17, 2-10), preseason No. 7

Eastern Michigan has probably been the biggest disappointment in the MAC this year, down five spots from where the coaches projected them to be.

They have a win over NIU, and just like other teams near the bottom of the conference, their win over Miami could be important if they get themselves into a tie-breaking scenario.

However, they lost to Central Michigan, Ohio, and Akron once each and will not play any team again, making it difficult for the Eagles to climb to the eighth seed and claim a tournament spot. They would need a very drastic change to occur in a short amount of time.

Demetri Manousos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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