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MAC Tournament: It's Kent State's NCAA bid to lose

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Conference tournament play began Tuesday, kicking off a 12-day mad scramble for NCAA tournament berths. Up next in our previews is the Mid-American Conference, which is almost certainly a one-bid league despite regular season champ Kent State's strong finish.

Mid-American Conference Tournament

Date: March 6, 11-13

Site: Cleveland, Ohio (Except first round, which is at higher seed)

First Round
No. 7 Western Michigan vs No. 10 Bowling Green
No. 6 Eastern Michigan vs No. 11 Northern Illinois
No. 8 Ball State vs No. 9 Ohio
No. 5 Buffalo vs No. 12 Toledo

Quarterfinals
No. 2 Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan/Bowling Green
No. 3 Akron vs. Eastern Michigan/Northern Illinois
No. 1 Kent State vs. Ball State/Ohio
No. 4 Miami vs. Buffalo/Toledo

Favorite: Kent State (23-8, 13-3)

Contenders: Akron (22-9, 12-4), Buffalo (17-11, 9-7)

Did you know: Bowling Green is the only original member of the MAC who has never won the conference tournament. The Falcons have lost each of their three trips to the title game.

Outlook: Kent State's resounding win at Akron in the regular season finale makes the Golden Flashes prohibitive favorites entering the MAC Tourney. They won 13 of 14 to end the regular season, falling only to Buffalo in late-February. Third-seeded Akron is still clearly the top challenger, but don't sleep on Buffalo either. The Bulls won six of eight to finish the season, but an upset loss at Miami Ohio in the regular season finale cost them a top-four seed and a first-round bye.

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