The title isn't necessarily a great one for a pre-game post, but I think we would all love to feel the excitement we felt last time the Bulls played at Ohio. Buffalo goes into their second MAC game of the year after a shaky performance against Kent State in which they won with solid play/coaching down the stretch (trust me that felt really awkward typing that, but it's true). Based off of their non-conference play, Ohio looked to be the favorite in the MAC this year, but dropped their opener at Bowling Green Saturday night. Both Buffalo and Ohio should be towards the top of the conference standings this year, so this game should have large implications when the final MAC standings are settled.
Ohio is led by its 3 juniors that were present when the team beat Georgetown in the NCAA tournament 2 years ago. D.J. Cooper, Ivo Baltic, and Reggie Keeley are all big contributors to this years Bobcats team adding 14, 11, and 10 points per game a piece. Their early season success has quickly looked questionable, as this team has been unable to beat its last 2 opponents. Lack of size and quality depth in the middle looks like it can be a weakness the Bulls can attack with its strong forward play.
I think many fans were happy to see Buffalo win against Kent State on Saturday, but myself I seem very cautious about feeling good about this team. Winning a conference home game by 1 point isn't a very good victory to me at all, unless its against a ranked team. Lack of students in attendance did hamper the home court advantage, but if you're best shooter cant get a shot off then you have a little bit of a problem. Filzen's numbers went down as the conference season went on last season, so I'm fairly cautious that he'll be able to play the way he did earlier this season.
A few good signs to me from the Kent State game are Reggie's use of his bench, and the fact that the Bulls were able to pull out a victory when they were having a bad game. Winning without playing good basketball is a luxuary, and to see the Bulls do that is a rarity. Another thing that I think I like is the fact that Reggie pretty much only went 7 deep with the exception of 4 minutes being given to Downing and Nuiriankh. If there's only 7 players ready to play the level you need for conference play, then only play those 7 guys. There's no need to put people out there when they seem lost on the court, make the offense stagnant, and seem to be a liability when they play: and I believe this is what Reggie did on Saturday. One thing that made this happen was Titus Robinson's strong play off the bench. 14 points, 6 rebounds, and only 1 turnover are not the numbers we expect out of T-Bob, but if we can get strong play like that from him on a consistent basis then this front court is going clearly be the best in the conference.
I do not think the Bulls will win tomorrow, but a victory in Athens will go a long way in the confidence of Bulls fans, as well as put the Bulls in the conversation for a televised bracket buster game.