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A first look at the 2015 MAC Women's Basketball Tournament Bracket

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@PBurwellMAC

With their 68-58 road win over Kent State and Ball State's easy win over Toledo, UB Women's Basketball for the second straight year claimed a top-four seed in the MAC Tournament and a bye right into Cleveland. It wasn't quite where they wanted to be, and it's been a rocky road.

But UB has shown they can play with anyone in the conference - or get beat by anyone in the conference - and head into the Tournament needing to win only three games to achieve their season-long MAC Championship goal.

I'll have much more later today, perhaps but hopefully not tomorrow morning, on the teams involved and UB's chances. This post is just a look at the bracket and some initial thoughts, not a preview of any sort.

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The Women's bracket historically is less safe for top seeds than the men's side, but I'm still grateful that Alumni is closed for the rest of the season with both UB squads advancing straight to Cleveland. To win, UB is going to have to add to their season-ending three-game streak, and I'd rather the total ask be six, and not eight.

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Last year the Bulls claimed the number four seed and did not look good against a Ball State team that had played its way through. I won't pretend I'm not thinking of that and UB's slow starts this season and feeling a little uncomfortable.

I mostly find hope to this point in Coach Jack's press defense that typically comes out in the second half.  If the team can unleash that on a group playing their third game in four days, and can wear them down inside with the physical presences of Kristen Sharkey and Alexus Malone, that will be good.

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On UB's side of the bracket, I'm glad to see Northern Illinois, who doesn't match up well with Buffalo, and Central Michigan, who is not the same team they were when they beat the Bulls and will be playing the rest of the year without likely WNBA draft pick Crystal Bradford.

I'm not delighted to see Bowling Green or Western Michigan. UB looked much more solid facing off with the Broncos in their second meeting this year, but the opposite is true for BG. I find it unlikely the depleted Falcons make a run, but I would love for them to beat WMU a game after playing Akron tough.

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On the other side, I'm bummed to miss Miami, Kent State in particular,  all of whom match up poorly against the Bulls (unless Larissa Lurken is hitting threes for the Flashes). I would even be happy with a matchup against EMU despite the dynamo that is Cha Sweeney. Toledo is welcome to lose as far as I'm concerned. But it's of course unlikely any one of those four makes it to the final.

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Among the seeded teams, I don't mind drawing Ohio. Buffalo's played better this MAC season when they've set out with a mission against a tough opponent. Provided we avoid another letdown in the first game, I feel most confident in a focused, strong game from UB against Ohio than I would against almost any other team in the conference.

Ohio is very good, but I figure the team has to feel like they missed a huge opportunity in the teams' last meeting, when a furious second-half comeback couldn't erase a large deficit but did show that the Bulls can take the Bobcats. I'm less confident in UB having the same motivation against any other team in the tournament, which I think wraps up my feelings in a nutshell.

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I also think the long wait could be dangerous for Ohio, who scores a ton from beyond the arc. Like I said above, the Women's Tournament has been less of a haven for the top seeds, and Ohio isn't exactly going to get a lot of time on the Q floor to get used to the sightlines. In my grasping for straws world, that's a plus for a hypothetical UB team in that matchup.

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On that other side, Akron did not finish the season strong at all, but just managed to hold onto the #3 seed thanks to a late comeback on Bowling Green. They would have fallen to #6 with a loss. Whether they beat a tired earlier round team or not, I think Ball State's far and away the best bet to come out of that half.

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Like I said, a full tournament preview post is coming later. That will be less UB-centric, but we'll have plenty to say all week. Strap in and go Bulls.