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The Ohio University Dance Team pumps up the O-Zone student section in the Convocation Center during the introduction of the Bobcat starters against Northern Illinois University on Saturday. (Nicole Raucheisen/WOUB)
The Ohio University Dance Team pumps up the O-Zone student section in the Convocation Center during the introduction of the Bobcat starters against Northern Illinois University on Saturday. (Nicole Raucheisen/WOUB)

MAC Tournament Down to Final Four Teams

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The 2016 Mid-American Conference tournament is down to the “final four.”

On one half the bracket the No. 1 seed Akron Zips take on the No. 12 seed Bowling Green Falcons. The other half is all chalk, as the No. 2 seed Ohio Bobcats square off against No. 3 seed Buffalo Bulls.

Akron (25-7) has been the class of the MAC all year long. The resilient Zips fought off a scare from eight seed Eastern Michigan in the quarterfinals. The Zips were down 12 with 8:45 remaining and it did not look good. But then Akron showed they are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. Antino Jackson and Reggie McAdams drilled back-to-back threes to make it a three-point game with 6:30 remaining. Akron trialed for the next five minutes until Noah Robotham nailed a three to give Akron a 62-61 lead.

Raven Lee hit a pair of free throws to regain the lead for Eastern Michigan. However, Isaiah Johnson showed why he was an All-MAC first team selection. With 26 seconds to go he made a hook shot in the paint to give Akron a 64-63 lead and the win.

Akron has made 64 more threes than the next best team in the MAC, Central Michigan. The Zips look to continue their great shooting against Bowling Green.

Akron’s opponent, the Bowling Green Falcons (17-17) have been doubted all year long. They are the underdogs that won just five conference games this year. But they pulled off a huge upset on Monday against No. 5 seed Kent State, in Kent. Then surprised everyone again on Thursday when they beat No. 4 seed Central Michigan.

Antwon Lillard was the star of the game. He had a game high 26 points, including the game winning three-pointer which came with 13 seconds remaining. The Falcons defense was impressive all afternoon long. They held the MAC’s second best three-point shooting team (in terms of converted three-pointers, 305) to 4-20 from behind the arc. Bowling Green will need that kind of defensive effort against Friday against Akron, whom they are 0-2 against and both games were not all that close.

If you want to read our full preview of the Ohio vs. Buffalo semifinal you can find that right here.

Ohio (21-10) has one of the best offenses in the MAC. They are coming off a 79-62 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies on Thursday night. All five starters scored in double figures for Ohio. Redshirt sophomore point guard Jaaron Simmons led the way for Ohio with 16 points and 11 assists. Ohio averaged 98.5 points per game in the two contests in the latter of the two Ohio scored 103 points.

The Buffalo Bulls (18-14) are the defending MAC tournament champions. They defeated the Miami Redhawks 94-81 in the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament. For the sixth time this year, Buffalo scored more than 90 points in a game. Willie Connor scored a game high 25 points in the win and Blake Hamilton grabbed 16 rebounds. Buffalo has not beaten Ohio this year but they came very close when they met in Athens.

The Men’s semifinal action tournament begins at 6:30 p.m. with Akron and Bowling Green tipping off. 30 minutes after that game ends, Ohio will face Buffalo. The winners will play Saturday at 7:30p.m.