Teams to watch
The Zips return four starters and 13 players from last year's MAC Championship team. Akron will likely insert center Zeke Marshall into their starting lineup. The Zips open the year ranked No. 8 in the Mid-Major Top 25.
Akron at Ball State Feb. 6 at noon
The Cardinals were knocked out of the MAC Tournament by the Bulls last season in the semifinals. Buffalo returns four starters from that team, including Rodney Pierce, who was named first team All-MAC.
Ball State at Buffalo Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
Players to watch
Kenny Hayes, Miami
Hayes injured his wrist eight games into last year and was granted a medical redshirt. He was selected as an honorable mention All-MAC player in his junior season, when he averaged 14.3 points in conference play.
Darion Anderson, Northern Illinois
Anderson was second team All-MAC last year and entered the NBA Draft before withdrawing his name. Averaged 16.9 points per game, fourth-best in the MAC last season. Anderson grabbed 5.4 rebounds per game, good enough for 12th in the conference.
Humpty Hitchens, Akron
As a point guard, Hitchens led the Zips to their first MAC championship in 23 years. As a freshman, he averaged 8.8 points in 22.5 minutes per game.
David Kool, Western Michigan
Led the MAC in scoring with 17.9 points per game last year. Kool is seventh on Western Michigan's career scoring list with 1,408 points. His .886 career free throw percentage is the second-best in MAC history.
2. Kent State
5. Bowling Green
1. Central Michigan
2. Northern Illinois
3. Eastern Michigan
4. Ball State
5. Western Michigan