The Mid-American Conference is the land of opportunity

Matt Peters

Welcome to the real bracket buster known as the Mid-American Conference.

Being in a mid-major conference, teams take on an underdog mentality in comparison to the ACC and Big East’s of the world. Coaches and players alike talk about representing the conference well when playing outside of it.

In conference, it’s like an all-out family brawl premade for Jerry Springer.

Only in the MAC could the conference’s last-place team, Marshall, beat the No. 1 seed, Miami, on the final day of the regular season.

Only in the MAC could two games separate nine of the conference’s 13 teams. Good luck figuring out the tiebreakers in that one. I was never very good at math, especially not advanced bracketology.

The key to the MAC this season has been taking advantage of your opportunities. Even with Kent State’s late-season struggles, it had a chance at the No. 1 seed last week.

Many of the Flashes’ struggles this season have revolved around not taking advantage of opportunities. Kent State threw away its chance at the MAC regular season title with its disastrous first half at Miami Wednesday.

Other opportunities slid by before that loss. Suddenly sure-win home games were turning into losses and second-half comebacks were turned into last-minute collapses, certainly not signs of a team taking advantage of what has been set in front of it.

There were signs of that team Saturday.

Ohio held as much as a seven-point lead in the first half and was aided by a sizable fan following which made its way to Kent. At times, the Bobcat fans could be heard over a fairly silent home crowd. The Flashes shot just 35.7 percent in the first half.

But then, something happened in the second half.

Coming off Ohio forward Sonny Troutman’s free throws, the Flashes had a 53-51 lead. On the next possession, senior guard Jason Edwin’s jumper was punctuated with a staccato “Yeah” from the Kent State crowd as the ball slipped through the netting.

Opportunity knocking … opportunity taken.

In recent home games, the Flashes would fight to overtake their opponent, get the crowd on their side only to have the other team make a run. That never happened Saturday.

Even poor calls by the referees did little to slow down Kent State — although I’m still wondering when Scott Cutley suddenly got the power to travel while falling backward in mid-air. Since when did the sophomore forward become Harry Potter? The Flashes fought through it and waited until the pendulum swung their way.

Opportunity knocking … opportunity taken.

Contact sports editor Matt Peters at [email protected].