We all know that no team in the MAC (especially Buffalo) is getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney, so out of conference record means nothing at this point. Most teams haven't played well enough through out the year to get a first round bye in the MAC tournament, but for Buffalo its a little different. Their entire regular season MAC record comes down to tonight, win tonight and the MAC tourney gets one game easier. If they lose, then their fate comes in the hands of tiebreakers and other teams (which no one wants to deal with including bloggers, MAC officials, and fans), so for the sake of the blog, tonight's game is either win and only have to win 3 in Cleveland, lose tonight and have to win 4 in Cleveland.
If you want you can take is as we have to win 4 games in a row either which way, but I think its way more than that at the moment. First of all one less game means better chance for you team to be healthy. The MAC conference is pretty spread out, so no team can afford to lose someone this time of the year. Luckily for Buffalo we've been pretty healthy this season, but players still get sore, and banged up. A week off to get completely healthy would definitely be nice no matter what team you are.
But to me it goes beyond that, there's something more important that the team needs a week off for. DEFENSE!!!!
Time off for teams really gives them a chance to fix problems that they've been struggling with. When you have a games 3 days apart, its really hard to focus in on something you've been struggling with, because of traveling, and preparation for the next game. Buffalo's offense is something that can afford to lose a little bit of rhythm with. The offense has been extremely efficient all year, including over winter break time of year when games were very far apart.
We all know the defense has been shaky throughout the year, and its very hard to fix when you play at least 2 games a week. A week off is a great opportunity to focus in on fixing the defensive problems, so if we get the first round bye, I would be very confident Buffalo wins the quarterfinal round no matter who they play. Having to play a first round game gives the team little time to improve defensively, on top of making sure they win the game as well.
The bottom line is winning tonight is bigger than it may seem.
For tonight's game...
Buffalo has been playing pretty well lately, winning 6 of its last 7 (the only loss being at Akron, which reinforces my belief in MAC officials trying as hard as they can to protect all of the Ohio schools). I know the Ohio and St Peters wins were not very impressive, but at this time of the year its all about winning any way you can. It doesn't have to be pretty, getting the W is the most important thing.
Miami has been struggling a little lately (which is good for Buffalo) losing 4 of the last 5, all 4 losses coming to the other MAC east schools. Miami is already guaranteed at least a home game in the MAC tournament, and if they win can hope for some help to get a first round bye, so you better believe Miami will come ready to play.
Miami has been struggling offensively lately, so hopefully Buffalo can take advantage of that and force this into a high scoring game. I really don't know whose gonna win, but knowing whats at stake for both teams, it should just come down to who wants it more. The seniors for Buffalo better show up if they want to take this one to get a first round bye. We have 5 who play a ton, and Kambi who gets in here and there. Miami has 3 seniors, 2 of them start and the 3rd has gotten 3 minutes all year. Advantage UB in the experience and desire to win tonight part...