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Previewing UB's Senior Night against Bowling Green with Randy Carpenter of Hustle Belt

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Tomorrow's Senior Night game against Bowling Green is a little bit of a big deal. With a win, UB secures a top-four seed in the MAC Tournament, the accompanying double bye, and gives themselves a great shot (with a little help) at the triple-bye that comes with the #2 seed.

But it's the win that counts. Three times since 2008, UB has welcomed the Falcons into Alumni Arena for Senior Night, and three times sent the visitors home with a loss. Buffalo needs to make it four. Athletics and True Blue are once again pounding the #Operation6000, the team is playing their best ball of the year, and all that's left is Bowling Green.

To preview the game, I spoke with Randy Carpenter of Hustle Belt, the SBNation blog for the rest of the MAC. If you don't know about them, check them out. You can read my answers to Randy's questions here.

1) I am terrified of Richaun Holmes. Always have been, can't wait til he graduates. UB has had mixed success against MAC forwards this year, using a lot of help defense rather than a single strong defender. Is there a weakness in Holmes' game?

You guys did a pretty good job against him in the first game. He only had 15 points and 7 rebounds. He did have 5 blocks though. The teams that have success against him try to limit his touches. If you pack it in the middle around him and make others beat you with their jump shot, that's how most teams have beat the Falcons this year. He runs the floor well for a big guy and he also can shoot the 3-point shot sometimes. So I would double him and get physical with him. He's a slender guy and I think he has most trouble with guys that take it right at him and put a body on him.

2) After Holmes, I can't immediately identify a clear #2 option. Depth and a number of contributors is great if one guy is having an off day, but who's most likely to take over and keep UB from focusing on the big man?

This has been a "by committee" approach this year for sure. One game it's Zach Denny and then another it's been Spencer Parker. And still others it's been Anthony Henderson. Denny played well through the middle part of the season but was removed from the starting lineup a few games ago. He responded with a big game off the bench against Miami with 17 points last week. If he hits his first shot, he gains confidence. If not, he can struggle. Parker can be a big-time player but he seems to do it only in spurts. He's very low-key and sometimes that is mistaken for he's not trying hard.

3) From what I could follow, BG's loss to Kent was particularly heartbreaking, and interrupts the momentum the Falcons had rebuilt after a pair of mid-February losses to Miami and Buffalo. Of the five teams fighting for four byes, BG is the only one who is definitively out with a loss. How is the fanbase reacting to this 2-3 stretch, and feeling about Friday?

The fans are devastated with the loss, especially the way they lost it at home. The lead and the ball with a minute to play and you get two seniors getting an unforced over-and-back call? Plus, you miss two free throws with 13 seconds left that could have given you the lead. The team's psyche is what concerns me. They were devastated to lose like that on Senior Night as well. I wonder if they can find enough in the tank to get up for this big game now. But, they've won their last 5 games on the road so who knows. This team has already passed most fans expectations this year anyway. The Lou Orr "lost" years seem like so long ago at BG...

4) Other than mental toughness and focus, the biggest issue for UB this season has been perimeter defense. They work for steals but have also made a habit of giving up extreme results from beyond the arc. Are Denny, Clarke, and Henderson consistent 38% shooters, or do they get hot and stay hot, get cold and stay cold?

This teams is definitely a hot and cold shooting team. If they get rolling they can fill it up. And, they can also knock the paint of the rim as well with their bricks. You usually know pretty early how that's going to go. However, this team has been a second half team in a lot of games this year, with some big comebacks. Lately they have been terrible from the 3-point line. I mean really bad. Like 3 of 20 or 5 of 23...those type of numbers. They were 8 of 20 (40%) against Kent Sate this week and that was one of their better performances of late.

5) UB is unnaturally good on Senior Night: 13-1 dating back to 2002, and has been excellent at home under Hurley (just three losses). Obviously we saw the Falcons at home this year. How are they on the road, in general?

Actually most fans are happy this game is on the road. The Falcons have lost their last 3 games at home, and as I said earlier, won their last five on the road. The Falcons are 9-4 overall on the road this year so they haven't been intimidated playing in someone else's barn this year. I think the more important factor in this one is how much is on the line here. I don't know if they handle pressure games well. Hell, these guys haven't had to play in any games that have mattered in their careers so far. They haven't been through this before. I think that will be a factor more than where the games played. It seems this last month of the season they have realized where they were in the standings and have suddenly choked a bit.

6) Similarly, how has Bowling Green been in close games? I can count up the record, but qualitatively, UB's m.o. is to build a lead and try to hold it, as you saw in the first matchup, or use a second-half run to pull away. How does Coach Jans limit runs against his D or generate them from his O?

They haven't been great in close games. It seems they have trouble closing games out. The Kent State game was a classic example of that. Akron at home and at Toledo are also games they were leading and should have finished but didn't. In reality, it should have never come down to this for BG. They should have already punched their ticket to one of the 4 byes in Cleveland. But again, this team is just learning to win. Jans has done a hell of a coaching job this year and changing the culture. Fans are excited about him putting together a few recruiting classes in the coming years. Of course, this is the MAC and if he turns BG around, other program are going to come calling with loads more money than BG has to offer him. I am sure you feel the same way about Hurley. Such is life in the MAC.

7) Anything else you want to highlight for Buffalo fans?

I live in Cleveland and have been to every MAC Tournament since 1999. I am always impressed with the fan turnout by Buffalo. It seems like they don't have any fans there and then about an hour before the game starts the buses pull up and one of the upper deck sections fills up with very vocal Bulls fans. I have to admit I wasn't a Reggie Withersppon fan. He seemed to come in with an attitude. I think that was because Buffalo was the "new guy" in the MAC then. He seemed to make it about Buffalo versus the rest of the MAC. I kind of get that but he was a little too intense for me. Still, I was sad when those Turner Battle, Roderick Middleton, Mark Bortz and Calvin Cage teams got beat in Cleveland. Those teams had some talent.