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NIU men's hoops picked to finish 2nd in West

MAC East Division Preseason Media Poll
(1st place votes in parentheses)
1. Akron – 190 points (19) 2. Kent State – 108 points (3) 3.  Buffalo – 97 points (1) 4. Miami – 78 points 5. Bowling Green – 54 points (1) 6. Ohio – 32 points

MAC West Division Preseason Media Poll 1. Central Michigan – 113 points (10) 2. Northern Illinois – 102 points (4) 3. Eastern Michigan – 94 points (3) 4. Ball State – 87 points (3) 5. Western Michigan – 79 points (4) 6. Toledo – 29 points Tournament Winner: Akron (19), Buffalo (2), Northern Illinois (1), Kent State (1), Bowling Green (1)

East Division All-MAC Preseason Team Kenny Hayes, G, Miami Brett McKnight, F, Akron Rodney Pierce, G, Buffalo Chris Singletary, G, Kent State Anthony “Humpty” Hitches, G, Akron

West Division All-MAC Preseason Team David Kool, G, Western Michigan Jarrod Jones, F/C, Ball State Brandon Bowdry, F, Eastern Michigan Jake Anderson, G, Northern Illinois Carlos Medlock, G, Eastern Michigan

MAC women's basketball preseason poll:

MAC East division 1. Bowling Green (22) 2. Kent State (12) 3. Miami (2) 4. Akron 5. Ohio 6. Buffalo

West division 1. Toledo (18) 2. Ball State (14) 3. Northern Illinois (4) 4. Central Michigan 5. Eastern Michigan 6. Western Michigan MAC Tournament champion : Bowling Green (16)

DeKALB – The belief around Northern Illinois is that the men's basketball team will be better than it has in the recent past.

On Wednesday there was a little more validation to that opinion. The Huskies were picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference West Division in the preseason media poll and junior guard Jake Anderson was named to the preseason all-MAC West team.

"It certainly won't go change how we go about our daily business in terms of understand we've got to get better as a team because at this point it's just someone's opinion," NIU coach Ricardo Patton said.

Central Michigan was picked to win the west with Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Western Michigan and Toledo following NIU. The Huskies, 10-20 overall and 5-11 in the MAC West last season, even got a vote to win the MAC tournament.

Wednesday also proved the running offseason theory that the West Division is as up-for-grabs as it ehas ver been. Five of the six West teams received at least three first-place votes.

"I guess how I would term it more so than wide open is everybody's gotten better," Patton said. "I think it is a compliment to us that there are some people that believe we've gotten better. So I certainly don't take that lightly, I take it as a compliment."

Akron was picked to win the MAC East and the MAC tournament.

The NIU women were selected to finish third in the MAC West behind Toledo and Ball State.

Also, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher was in on a conference call with the media Wednesday morning. He reiterated that by 2012, the conference tournaments should be at two separate venues and play host to all 12 teams. The current contract with Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena to host the men's tournament runs out in two years but the MAC and arena officials already are in discussions on an extension of that agreement.

"I think the membership is very interested in that," Steinbrecher said. "Cleveland has been a wonderful host site for the event."

Steinbrecher also made it clear that improving the image of the MAC in men's basketball is a clear priority.

"On the men's side, can we rebound from what was collectively not a good season for the league as a whole?" Steinbrecher said.

One idea he emphasized was to improve scheduling and get more home and neutral-site games in the non-conference schedule.

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