Weekend games will shape tourney

Andrew Clayman and Andrew Clayman

Cory Ryan’s game winning three-pointer not only earned BG a 73-72 win over Eastern Michigan last night, but it also renewed the Falcons’ hopes of securing home court advantage for the first round of next week’s Mid-American Conference tournament.

BG is far from alone in their quest for home court, however. With only one game remaining in the MAC regular season, the tournament seedings remain completely up in the air, with countless scenarios all depending on tomorrow’s match-ups.

The Falcons’ thrilling win last night has them right in the middle of a conference log jam; one of seven teams with eight or nine MAC victories. Under the MAC tournament system, the top three seeds receive first round byes, moving straight on to Cleveland. The other ten teams must play first round games this coming Monday, on the home floors of the schools with the higher seedings. Only the winners of those games will then advance to Gund Arena next Thursday.

Thus far, only Central Michigan has solidified its spot in the post-season, clinching the MAC West Division and a No. 1 seed with their 13 wins. As for everyone else, this Saturday’s season finales will determine their fates. Here is a preview of the MAC’s judgment day, 2003.

TOLEDO (6-11) at BG (8-9): The Falcons will look to go into the post-season with a three game win streak and possibly, home court advantage. They will need plenty of help from other schools, but they won’t need any motivation when they host arch rival Toledo.

“Saturday’s game is big for us,” says BG guard Ron Lewis. “We’re striving to be at the top when the tournament comes, just like everybody else.”

“They [Toledo] beat us on their floor,” adds last night’s hero, Cory Ryan. “Now, we owe them one.”

OHIO (8-9) at KENT STATE (11-6): Ohio is among the teams that BG will be rooting against tomorrow. They are also one of the few teams over which the Falcons would have a tie-break advantage. Meanwhile, Kent is looking to sneak by Miami for the East Division title and a first round bye.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (13-4) at BALL STATE (8-9): Central is the only team that can relax a bit tomorrow, but Ball State will look to rebound from a blowout loss to Toledo and nudge themselves into a home court tournament game.

WESTERN MICHIGAN (9-8) at NORTHERN ILLINOIS (11-6): As of now, NIU would have home court in round one, but a win could earn them a bye into Cleveland. Western would clinch a home court first round game with a win, but a loss makes things hazy.

AKRON (9-8) at BUFFALO (1-16): Akron is the MAC’s hottest team, and they should win their fifth straight and clinch home court with ease.

MIAMI (11-6) at MARSHALL (8-9): The Redhawks could win the East and earn a bye with a win and a Kent loss. Meanwhile, Marshall is another team on the giant bubble between heading home or hitting the road in round one.

With one game left, BG’s chances remain as good as anyone’s, and coach Dan Dakich is just happy to have the opportunity.

“I’m a little concerned for us, with fatigue, coming back for a two o’clock game,” he said. “But we’re going to give it our best shot.” Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m. at Anderson Arena.