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Xavier Ford could have been MAC Sixth Man of the Year, but he played too well

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Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

There's really only one (valid) reason that one of UB's Xavier Ford won't win MAC Sixth Man of the Year tomorrow.

He's too good.

Ford would be a much stronger candidate had he not suplpanted fellow senior Will Regan, who's struggled to put up exciting numbers in Bobby Hurley's post-McCrea offense, in the starting lineup, but it's that he was good enough to demand starter's minutes this season that will push him out of contention for the award. I suppose "being too good" for an award is a good problem to have.

Ford, of course, was set as a clear favorite in this one, playing as a true sixth man for the first 16 games of the season and averaging 8.7 points and 7 rebounds a contest in 23 minutes a night. Entering the starting lineup the next game, he's started each of the 12 games since, in that stretch averaging 10.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25 minutes a night.

Based on past awards - only Carlton Guyton and Kevin Warzynski of Kent have won the award while starting ten or more games - those 12 starts will hurt Ford's candidacy despite his minute remaining nearly flat. But his style and numbers are exactly what the Sixth Man Award usually rewards: high-energy sparks off the bench that fill the stat sheet quickly.

Xavier is likely 'hurt' here by the nature of his team this year. Without only eight players accounting for 200 minutes a night, it was always going to be hard for someone to tread the line between "playing too much" and playing well enough to win the award. Ford was simply too good not to play, and eventually too good not to start.

Curiously, it may be Rodell Wigginton who has the best case among Bulls for the honor, even though I don't think he season stacks up to Fords. At 7.3 points in 22 minutes per game and only six starts on the year, Rodell may be right in the sweet spot that Ford outgrew.

If the MAC announces the same awards on the same days of the week as last season, we should expect the Sixth Man award to be announced tomorrow, along with the Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards.