Huge win against Akron!!!! I was really worried going into the game that we would lose a close one that would break our hearts, but boy did the Bulls prove me wrong. This Akron team is "better", "more athletic", "stronger" than the Bulls, and yet Buffalo still found a way to really give it to them.
Hats off to Rodney Pierce for his 8th straight game of scoring over 20 points. I used to question your shot taking, and thought you were a bit of a ball-hog for always taking too many shots, but I couldn't have been more wrong about you when I thought this last year. I used to think you forced too many shots hoping for something to fall, but you really have taken smarter shots lately, and you just naturally get open more than anyone else does, so you deserve to have the ball more. Some of the pull-up jumpers when you're leading the 2 on 1 break still get me a little worked up, but when you look at the whole body of work that you provide, no one should be allowed to complain.
Just like to Rodney, hats off to the Bulls 6'1" 165 pound spark plug who I thought could never play defense in the past, and couldn't create his own shot enough for a 3 point specialist. Sean Smiley in plain words, pretty much is the man. I already said his defense improved dramatically earlier this season, but the way he pokes the ball away from defenders to start fast breaks is exactly what we need, and he does an excellent job at it. 5 steals by himself yesterday, and just as importantly came up with huge baskets several times during the game. Sometimes when people score you can say "well we really didn't need that one right there," but whenever us fans start getting worried and know that someone has to do something, Smiley always seems to find a way. Thank you Sean Smiley.
A statement win like this really puts the Bullseye on our back (no pun intended). Before yesterday I thought that the MAC was pretty wide open, with no real favorite (I did think that Akron was the best team, but not by a large amount), but the Bulls might have done enough to put them not only out in front, but by a substantial margin as well. I'm going to recognize Northern Illinois as well. 3-0 in the MAC too but all 3 of their wins have come against MAC west opponents. Their 7-8 overall record makes them seem sub-par, but 6 of those losses are against Northwestern, Illinois, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Minnesota,and Temple, so its really unfair to call them overachieving at 3-0 since they've played one of the harder schedules in the country. In the end though, they may be the best in the MAC West, but that's only good enough for 4th, maybe 3rd best in the entire conference.
I said earlier in the year that I would only count us out of an at-large bid once we hit that 5 loss plateau, so I guess we still have a chance haha. Seriously though, although mathematically it is possible to run the table in the MAC, its not going to happen. Buffalo isn't substantially that much better than the others to expect to be perfect. The most likely scenario is that they'll lose 3 or 4 MAC games, although they do have the ability to only lose about 2. Right now they just have to concentrate on getting more MAC wins to put themselves in a good position when the conference tournament comes around, and learn how to beat every team so that they can be prepared for March (meaning MAC championship in Cleveland, I'm not gonna assume anything else in March).