2024 MAC Tournament Odds, Picks: Betting Preview for Akron, Ohio, Toledo & More

2024 MAC Tournament Odds, Picks: Betting Preview for Akron, Ohio, Toledo & More article feature image

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: The MAC logo.

Much like the Missouri Valley Conference, the MAC does its top teams no favors.

The recent format alteration has shrunk the field to eight teams, but all seven games will be played at a neutral site: Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland. Up until 2019, the opening-round games were hosted by the top seeds.

That’s a thorn in the side of Toledo, Akron, Ohio and Central Michigan, the top four seeds, which all drew tricky opening-round matchups.

Toledo is pinned against reigning champ Kent State, which has been a major disappointment this year but is undeniably dangerous under Rob Senderoff.

Central Michigan draws Bowling Green, which CMU beat twice in overtime during the regular season.

Akron, the preseason favorite, draws Miami (OH), which took down the Zips once already. And finally, Ohio draws Western Michigan, which won the only meeting between the two as well.

In short, there’s a landmine waiting for all of the top four seeds, amplified by the tricky neutral-site matchup where anything can happen.

Did you know legal betting is in the Tar Heel State? North Carolina sports betting is live as of March 11.

MAC Tournament Odds & Bracket

Odds as of Monday, March 11 and via DraftKings.

Kent State+600
Bowling Green+1400
Miami (OH)+1600
Central Michigan+2200
Western Michigan6500

The 2024 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament Bracket is SET! 🏆🏀

🎟️: https://t.co/tS51cqQss9 | #MACtionpic.twitter.com/oJeJ8hrPx0

— #MACtion (@MACSports) March 9, 2024

MAC Tournament Storylines

It's a tale as old as time. Toledo dominates the regular season but can’t seal the deal in the MAC Tournament.

The Rockets committed highway robbery in claiming the MAC’s No. 1 seed, in large part due to Akron’s head-scratching tumble in the final week.

Toledo is in quasi-rebuild mode, deploying multiple rookies in high-leverage positions, yet has barely skipped a beat under Tod Kowalczyk. Will this be the year the Rockets finally take launch?

Akron’s return to the MAC Tournament title ring would be a slam dunk for journalists. Ali Ali’s boomerang return to the school after a disappointing season at Butler last year — along with the return of Mikal Dawson — makes this Zips team a rerun of the 2022 movie.

Akron deploys four of the same starters as the 2022 squad, which tore through the MAC Tournament and nearly upset UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Bigger picture, the MAC stooped to a new low in the overall conference totem pole this year. The MAC ranks as the 24th-best league in America, per KenPom. This swoon was somewhat expected with so many upperclassmen graduating this offseason, but a flurry of injuries also torpedoed the hopes of multiple contenders.

Chris Payton, Kent State’s freakish high-flyer, is presumably out for the MAC Tournament after missing the last three games of the regular season.

Northern Illinois is also missing the crux of its roster, forcing Rashon Burno to utilize a rail-thin rotation. Philmon Gebrewhit, Xavier Amos and Zarique Nutter all missed the Huskies' regular-season finale against Buffalo.

Then there’s Eastern Michigan, which has miraculously improved lately despite missing key guard Tyson Acuff with a bum ankle. Acuff’s 21.7 PPG average was tops in the league before he left the rotation.

Even Ball State caught the injury bug in minor bites, marked by late absences to Davion Bailey and Basheer Jihad. Each missed one of the last two regular-season contests.

Ohio is a serious threat to win three games in three days, but its depth will be tested. It will likely be without the services of Miles Brown, a jack-of-all-trades tool and stout defender. For context, Ohio went 12-3 when Brown started this season.

Central Michigan’s situation is the wild, wild west of mystery boxes. Three starters have missed at least one game in the past week.

MAC Tournament Best Bets

Akron Over Miami (OH)

Round 1 Matchup

This is not just your standard revenge angle. This is good old-fashioned brotherly hate revenge for John Groce, who suffered his first conference defeat at the hands of his brother, Travis Steele, when the RedHawks stunned the Zips in late January.

Since then, Akron’s looked more vulnerable than invincible, as it did for the first few weeks of conference action.

Groce has gone 7-4 against the number in conference tournament games. Plus, this exact nucleus cut down the nets in Cleveland two years ago.

Bet on the more talented team in a premier situational spot, which should come at a discount given Akron’s late-season hiccup.

Ohio Bobcats

To Win Tournament (+330)

Ohio flew under the radar as a sneaky MAC title contender this summer and quietly cruised to a 13-5 conference record, just missing the top seed by a game.

The early injury to AJ Brown could’ve imploded this depth-depleted squad, but Jeff Boals’ sterling backcourt picked up the pieces sans Brown and is now down another Brown (Miles) for the MAC Tournament.

His impact cannot be understated, but the bigger bet is on Boals’ strategic adjustments and the Bobcats’ dynamic scoring arsenal. If they catch fire, they could run away with this title

Central Michigan Chippeawas

To Win Tournament (+2200)

As a partial hedge/partial gut value play, Central Michigan doesn’t profile as a Cinderella long shot. However, the Chips continue to find a way to win close games and bewilder opposing offenses with multiple defensive fronts.

Guard Paul McMillan IV possesses takeover potential as well, which is something the CMU backcourt hasn’t had in years.

And relative to the rest of the field, CMU is one of the healthier, more cohesive rotations entering the weekend. Again, the dreaded injury situation is a dark cloud hovering over this team, but as long as Brian Taylor is healthy, he can take over a game by himself.

Plus, CMU has given Toledo fits historically.

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