Toledo is among three teams that will be favored next year to win the MAC men's basketball title, a group that also includes Akron, Western Michigan, and maybe Buffalo.
Actually, strike Western Michigan. The list is down to three.
The Broncos, who shared the MAC West title this year with Toledo — sort of — suffered a crippling blow Tuesday with the announced departure of league freshman of the year Darius Paul. As you probably recall, Paul, who won the award in a landslide, shredded Toledo for 28 points and 12 rebounds in a pivotal late-season test at Savage Arena. The high school teammate of Rocket freshman Nathan Boothe, Paul averaged 10.4 points and 5.7 boards. Had he stayed at WMU, he would have collected at least one MAC player of the year award.
Granted I caught Paul on two good nights (he scored 15 points in the first game against UT) but he is as physically dominant of a freshman as I've seen in the league.
My gut tells me Paul wants to play at a higher level, perhaps at Illinois where his brother Brandon recently wrapped up a fine career.
This news is bad for Western Michigan, bad for the image of the MAC, and bad for the little guy in college basketball.
But make no mistake. It's good for Toledo.