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CIT Tournament: Buffalo at Kalamazoo

From a fans perspective Western Michigan was about the worst match-up UB could have gotten in the second round. It's a team that we know and while it might be the closest school still in the CIT it is still far enough away to keep most fans from making the trip.

From the teams perspective, and from the Athletic Department point of view this is not a terrible course of events. The Bulls need experience on the road that was demonstrated time after time this season. There is also something to be said for taking on the MAC West Champions, in Kalamazoo, for a second time.

Fans and Management alike can agree that playing a game at WMU is far better than losing in round one. The Bulls also have something to play for in round three, Iona. When the Gaels beat up on Valpo they earned a by and became the eastern most team remaining.

WMU's last game

The Bronco's survived foul fest 2011 against Tennessee Tech. A total of 55 personal fouls were called in what could have been named 'When Zebras Attack'. What really made the game painful to watch was the 50% free throw shooting that both teams put up.

The game was tight thought the first until a 9-3 run, capped by Nate Hutcheson hit an easy lay up at the buzzer.  Western Michigan never really put Tennessee Tech away but led by double digits for a good portion of the second half. Four times they went up by 12. Several times the Eagles charged to within two possessions but  WMU reopened the lead each time.

Value Conf
Pts / Poss 1.06 1
Rebound Pct 53 1
Total Rbnds /PG 37.7 1
Off Reb Pct 37 1
Poss / 40 minutes 68.6 2
Floor Pct 54.4 2
Efficiency 105.6 2
pts /PG 72.5 2
Total Rbnds 1245 2
Off Rbnds 436 2
Off Rbnds /PG 13.2 2
Def Rbnds /PG 24.5 2
FG Pct 44.4 3
Steals 195 8
Disqualifications 12 8
3-pt FG Point Pct 24.1 9
Steal Pct 8.6 9
Steals /PG 5.9 9
Turnover Pct 19.7 9
Assist Pct 50.2 10

The Bronco's by the Numbers:

WMU has the Blessing / Curse of playing in the MAC West. It's a blessing because there were six to eight near guaranteed wins in that division (EMU, NIU, Toledo, CMU). It's a curse because those wins mask the solid basketball that WMU has played this season.

The Bronco's went 3-3 against the East with wins over Ohio, Miami, and Bowling Green. Statistically they did as well against the as anyone short of Kent.

Free Throw Shooting is a key part of WMU's success,  on the season the Broncos are shooting 70% from the stripe, fourth best in the MAC. If they played to form last night they would have beaten the Golden Eagles by 20.

They lead the MAC in points per possession, rebounding, and offensive rebounding. On top of that they shoot pretty well inside (second in the conference). That makes them close to the most efficient team in the conference.

On the flip side WMU often finds themselves in foul trouble and they don't manage to steal the ball very well while turning it over at a shameful rate.

If the Bulls want to be in this game they have to perform from the line, WMU Will likely send UB to the line at least a dozen times, if UB shoots 70% or better they are staring at 16 free points.

When last we met:

Zach Filzen scored 19 point, hitting  five 3-pointers in a comfortable 79-68 back in January.  Dave Barnett and Javon McCrea both went 5-for-6, Barnett scoring 16 points and McCrea 12. Byron Mulkey added 11 points and Mitchell Watt 10. It was one of Buffalo's better all around offensive games.

WMU relied on just three players, Demetrius Ward, Flenard Whitfield and Juwan Howard Jr. who each scored 21. Outside of them only five other points were scored (and three of those were from the line). That seemed to be a season narrative for the Bronco's who were 10th in the conference in Assist.

Western Michigan tied the game early in the second by a 6-0 run put UB ahead for good as their lead would never be below five.

Keys to the Game:

  • Western Michigan is not a good three point shooting team. Unless the planets are lined up right they will try to beat you underneath. And they usually do that with rebounding. Take away the second chances and force WMU to shoot.
  • Do well at the line, WMU is one of the less disciplined teams in the conference. They will send you to the stripe more than jut about anyone else.
  • Don't send them to the line. 70% from the line in conference play. In other words don't take stupid fouls.

To the Winner?

If UB wins I suspect that a trip downstate will be in order to take on Iona of the MAAC. If the Bronco's prevail they may be heading to Northern Iowa. The fact these two teams were matched up shows either the CIT does not want three MAC teams in the quarter finals or that geography is the biggest factor.