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Ohio Picked to Finish Second in MAC in Coach’s Poll

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The Ohio Bobcats Men’s Basketball team has been selected to finish in second place in the 2016 Mid-American Conference Preseason Poll, as voted on by 24 members of the media and the league’s 12 coaches.

The race was as close as the presidential election of 2000 as Ohio received more first-place votes (16) than predicted MAC East winner Akron (15), but came up 4 points short of Akron’s total.

Buffalo, last season’s conference tournament champion, received the other five first-place votes and were predicted to finish third, followed by Kent St., Bowling Green, then Miami.

In a joking reference to that election of 2000 Coach Saul Phillips said “I thought we carried Florida, but there were some hanging chads and so now here we sit.” He also reflected more seriously on what the polls say about the conference as a whole, adding that he thinks, “The results of the preseason poll reflect a lot of parity in the league.”

In addition, the league announced its Preseason All-MAC teams, and Ohio senior Tony Campbell and teammate Jaaron Simmons make up two of the five spots on the MAC East squad. They are joined by Akron Center Isaiah Johnson, Blake Hamilton of Buffalo, and Jimmy Hall from Kent St.

Tony Campbell was named as an AP All-America Honorable Mention and MAC Player of the Year after setting career highs in average points, 17.1, and rebounds, 10.2, per game last season. Campbell’s teammate Jaaron Simmons is coming off a year where he set an Ohio Bobcat and MAC record of 275 total assists.

While the early consensus for the favorites in the East are Akron and Ohio the West is far less clear, as reflected in the polls. Eastern Michigan was chosen to finish first in the West division with 16 first place votes, and Ball State who received 12 first place votes was picked second.

Northern Illinois was picked third and snagged first votes for first, followed by Toledo, who had one vote for first, rounding out the West is Western Michigan, and then Central Michigan. Oddly enough, Central Michigan did pick up the two remaining first place votes even though they were picked to finish last.

The Bobcats will begin their season with an exhibition matchup at home against Rio Grande Nov. 5 at 2 p.m., followed by the regular season home opener the next Saturday, Nov. 12 against Southern.