CLEVELAND - The Ohio Bobcats and the Ball State Cardinals have been selected to win their respective divisions in the 2010-11 MAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll. The poll was announced during the league's preseason media teleconference and was determined by a 24-member MAC News Media Panel. The Bobcats also garnered 10 votes to win the FirstEnergy MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. Ten of the league's top men's basketball players were also selected to the preseason All-MAC teams for the East and West Divisions as announced by the league office.
Ohio Head Coach John Groce will welcome back eight letterwinners, including three starters to a team that had a historic season in 2009-10. The Bobcats advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005 and third time in the last 20 years. The 13-seeded Bobcats faced 4-seeded Georgetown and knocked off the Hoyas, 97-83. It was Ohio's first win against a nationally-ranked program since 1998 and advanced them into the NCAA Second Round for the first time since 1983.
Last season, the 'Cats finished with fourth-most wins in school history (22), led the league in scoring by averaging 74.7 points per game and had five players average 10.5 points or more for their 2009-10 campaigns. Cooper, the MAC Freshman of the Year last season and member of the 2010 CollegeInsider.com Freshmen All-America Team, is back for his sophomore season in Athens. The Chicago native averaged 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals against the Hoyas and Tennessee Volunteers in the NCAA Tournament last year.
The Bobcats were followed in the East Division preseason predictions by Kent State, while Akron was picked to finish third. Miami was tabbed to finish fourth, while Bowling Green and Buffalo rounded out this year's selections.
Ball State finished tied for second in the MAC West Division last season after posting an overall record of 15-15 (8-8 MAC). The Cardinals return nine letterwinners from last year's team, including four full-time starters and five players who started at least 11 games last year. The Cardinals are led by four-year letterwinner and lone senior Malik Perry, who has played in 85 career games. Ball State has a core group of four juniors in Jarrod Jones, Randy Davis, Pierre Sneed and Mo Hubbard who have played a combined 228 games, including 136 starts in their first two seasons. Jones earned First Team All-MAC honors last year as he averaged 12.2 points and 7.4 rebounds last year.
Central Michigan followed Ball State in the preseason rankings in second, while Eastern Michigan was selected to finish third. Western Michigan was picked to place fourth, while Northern Illinois and Toledo rounded out the West Division selections.
The West Division preseason All-MAC representatives are Ball State's Jones, Brandon Bowdry of Eastern Michigan, Xavier Silas of Northern Illinois, Flenard Whitfield of Western Michigan and Trey Zeigler of Central Michigan. This marks the second consecutive season that Bowdry and Jones have been selected to the All-MAC preseason squad.
The East Division squad is comprised of Akron's Brett McKnight, Bowling Green's Scott Thomas, Kent State's Justin Greene, Miami's Julian Mavunga and Ohio's Cooper. All five East Division preseason All-MAC selections were either on the All-MAC second team (Greene) or honorable mention (McKnight, Thomas, Mavunga, Cooper) selections last season.
The MAC regular season gets underway on Wednesday, November 10 as Toledo travels to Champaign, Ill. to take on Illinois at 8 p.m. (ESPN3.com). Conference action begins on Saturday, January 8 as all teams will start to fight for position in the FirstEnergy Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place on March 10-12 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
2010-2011 Men's Basketball Preseason All-MAC Teams/Predicted Order of Finish
East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Brett McKnight, F, Akron
Scott Thomas, F, Bowling Green
Justin Greene, F, Kent State
Julian Mavunga, F, Miami
D.J. Cooper, G, Ohio
West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Jarrod Jones, F/C, Ball State
Trey Zeigler, G, Central Michigan
Brandon Bowdry, F, Eastern Michigan
Xavier Silas, G, Northern Illinois
Flenard Whitfield, F, Western Michigan
East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ohio - 128 points (12)
2. Kent State - 114 points (8)
3. Akron - 104 points (4)
4. Miami - 84 points
5. Bowling Green - 42 points
6. Buffalo - 32 points
West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Ball State - 124 points (12)
2. Central Michigan - 122 points (8)
3. Eastern Michigan - 88 points (2)
4. Western Michigan - 68 points
5. Northern Illinois - 64 points (2)
6. Toledo - 38 points
(1st place votes in parentheses)
Tournament Champion: Ohio (10), Kent State (6), Central Michigan (4), Ball State (2), Akron (2)
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