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MAC Tournament Bracket, Picks, and Odds

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in College Basketball

Updated Mar 8, 2021 · 5:16 PM PST

2021 MAC Bracket
The 2021 MAC Tournament Bracket
  • The MAC Tournament will take place in Cleveland, Ohio, from Thursday, March 11th, to Saturday, March 13th
  • Toledo is the top seed and favorite, followed by red-hot Buffalo
  • See the seeds, bracket, and full tournament preview, below

The MAC will be send just a single team to the NCAA Tournament this year, so the only way one of the eight programs still standing will make it to Indianapolis next week is by winning the conference tournament.

The MAC Tournament tips off on Thursday (March 11th) and runs until Saturday (March 13th) with all games being contested at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

Toledo, fresh off a conference best 15-wins, is your number one seed and favorite, followed by Buffalo, Akron and Kent State.

2021 MAC Tournament Odds

Team (Seed) Odds
Toledo Rockets (1) +190
Buffalo Bulls (2) +200
Akron Zips (3) +500
Kent State Golden Flashes (4) +500
 Bowling Green Falcons (6) +900
Ohio Bobcats (5) +900
Ball State Cardinals (8) +2000
Miami (OH) Redhawks (7) +2800

Odds taken March 8th.

Oddsmakers are expecting a two-horse race between the Rockets and Bulls, and while they’re probably right, we can’t ignore the upside of longshot Ohio.

Bobcats Have Bite

Ohio (13-7, 9-5 MAC) dropped its only meeting with Toledo this season, but produced impressive wins over Buffalo and Akron, and took #4 Illinois down to the wire before losing in the final seconds in Champaign.

They feature five players who average double-digit points per night, led by Jason Preston, and rank third in the conference in points per game, second in field-goal percentage, and first in assists.

Defensively, they’re a class behind the MAC’s elite, ranking ninth in opponent points per game and defensive rebounding, and 10th in enemy shooting percentage. They’re able to overcome their defensive deficiencies by protecting the ball and knocking down their free throw attempts, and are led by a strong ground of veterans.

Their top three players are all upperclassmen, and if they can flash the ceiling they showed against Buffalo and Illinois earlier this year, they’re more than capable of making a deep run.

Turn Down Toledo

As far as the favorites, it’s hard to make an argument against the Rockets. Toledo (20-7, 15-4 MAC) has the highest Net Rating of any program in the MAC, and rank 11 spots higher than Buffalo by KenPom’s metrics. They’re the conference leader in points per game, field-goal percentage and three-point efficiency, while ranking second in assists.

Like Ohio, five players average in double figures led by Marreon Jackson, and they closed out the season with four wins in five games, with each victory by double-digits.

Defensively, they’re tops in the MAC at defending the three-point line, while ranking second in opponent field-goal percentage and defensive rebounding.

They defeated Buffalo on the road by 10, swept Kent State, beat Ohio, and fell to Akron in the dying seconds of overtime. If there’s one area of concern it’s that they do have some ugly losses on their resume. They’ve been dropped by Bradley, Ball State, Bowling Green and most recently Central Michigan, all programs that rank outside the top-130. That doesn’t mean they should be on upset alert early in the conference tournament, but it does make me lean slightly towards red-hot Buffalo.

Bullish On Buffalo

The Bulls have won the MAC in each of the last two seasons the conference tournament was contested (2018 and 2019) and have made four NCAA Tournament appearances since 2015. They enter this week winners of five in a row, and eight of nine, with the only blemish coming against Toledo.

They beat the 3, 4 and 5 seed down the stretch, and are the nation’s eighth highest scoring team (82.7 ppg). Buffalo features four players who average in double figures, led by Jeenathan Williams and Josh Mballa, with the latter averaging a double-double (15 pts, 10 reb) per night. They lead the MAC in total rebounding, opponent points per game, enemy shooting percentage, steals and blocks, and massively underperformed on offense in their first meeting with the Rockets.

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They shot just 38.6% from the field, and 2-of-14 from beyond the arc, well below their season averages. They dominated on the glass, finishing +23 in the rebounding department, while Toledo’s offensive numbers were in line with their season averages.

Since that outing, they’ve won all five of their games, four by double figures, and boast a +76 point differential. They didn’t lose a single game in the conference to anyone outside the top-five, and if they simply meet their offensive expectations in the likely rematch with the Rockets, they’ll be March Madness bound once again.

Pick: Buffalo Bulls (+200)

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