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Buffalo Bulls vs Toledo Rockets: MAC Basketball showdowns keep getting more important

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With the MAC so tight at the top this year, tiebreaker advantages are going to loom large. For that reason, tonight's home matchup against the Toledo Rockets is massively important for UB -- it's the only chance Buffalo will have to establish a head-to-head result with UT.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Game 23: UB (15-7, 6-4) vs Toledo (15-8, 7-3)
toledo logo
Date - February 10th Last Meeting (2014): UB 65 - UT 67
Time - 7:00 PM
MAC Standing - T-5th
Venue - Alumni Arena Opponent Rankings - RPI (90)

The post I used to copy this template over was from a game much earlier in the season, and surmised that we'd start to see some separation among the top teams in the conference "over the next four games."

That's usually what happens, but this year it just hasn't, with UB sitting sixth in the MAC seeding this morning but only a single game out of first place. In the span of four days, the Bulls could swing from first place, to sixth, to second. For the fourth time in five games, UB will in the Rockets take on a team with a share of first place in the conference.

Even if Buffalo had won in Akron on Saturday, I think tonight's game would be more important in the long term. As it stands now, there is no doubt that is true. If you're reading this and able to make it to Alumni, but haven't decided yet, make no mistake: since the Bulls only get one shot at the Rockets, this game is the most important of the season so far, and truthfully, only the rematch against the Zips and the pair of games against Bowling Green even stand a chance of approaching this one.

It's very good for the Bulls that that single shot at the Rockets comes in Amherst, where UB is of course undefeated on the season and just might have unlocked a huge step forward in home court advantage by running Kent State out of the building in front of a massive student crowd their last time here. At 15-8 (7-3 MAC), Toledo has an extremely similar resume to the Bulls, and is led by Julius Brown, a deadly scorer at 16.3 ppg who also averages 4.4 assists a night and a 2:1 assist:turnover ratio.

UB will have to contend with a deep and balanced Rocket lineup as well. UT has used the same starting five in all 23 games this year, and all five are above 9.0 points per game. Toledo as a whole averages 74 points a night, so they'll likely enjoy Buffalo's pace and we could get some fireworks.

The keys to the game for Buffalo will come as no surprise: Led by Brown's 41%, Toledo shoots 36% from distance while turning the ball over 12.3 times a night. UB will need to lower the first number and raise the second to enjoy an easy win.

Go Bulls