It's almost basketball season! It's amazing at how fast time flew to get to this point, but here it is. Today the men's and women's basketball teams will be showcasing their skills to the general public in the annual edition of Bulls Madness. This fun event is free to the general public and starts at 7PM in Alumni Arena. If you're around, I'd highly recommend making it out for some good old fashioned fun. The event consists of several friendly competitions such as three point and dunk contests.
So, since I've shown such poor ability in being able to pick a single winner in BRuWPeG (0-5), I decided to try my luck at predicting the winners of these events. During this post I'll attempt to guess how many 3's the winning players will make and the winners of the dunk and skills contest. Odds are, I'll be very wrong with most of my predictions, but that hasn't stopped me before! Let's get this started.
Women's 3 Point Contest
Match Up: JoAnna Smith vs. Gabi Bade
Winner: JoAnna Smith
This is one of the few things I'll ever write during a prediction and feel 100% confident on. Smith is already coming off a stellar season in which she made first team All-MAC. She was also just recently voted preseason player of the year in the Big 4 so look for her to have a strong 2016-2017 campaign.
As for this contest, it's her wheelhouse. It's rare that I'll go into Alumni Arena and not see Smith working on her game and her shot. There was a stretch where I gawked as she put down 10 straight from the top of the key. As dominate of a shooter as you will find, Smith should dominate this competition.
I could see her facing some issues from point guard Gabi Bade — who did take the competition last year — but overall I just don't think she can do it this year. Look for Smith to put up around 19-21 points out of 30 and coast in to the final against the men's champion.
Men's 3 Point Contest
Match Up: Willie Conner vs. Nikola Rakicevic
Winner: Willie Conner
This contest is all about Willie Conner for me. Conner has a big frame and knows how to shoot. When he got hot from the corner, I didn't think he could ever miss. His length on the court is huge and he's going to have to step up his game for the first few weeks with fellow senior Blake Hamilton out for a few weeks. I look for him to come out focused and ready to shoot lights out
As for Rakicevic, he gave Jarryn Skeete a run for his money last year. He missed a bit of time last season due to tragic circumstances but he is for sure one of the hardest working players I've seen. Multiple times I've seen him working with a coach at Alumni Arena trying to get his shooting stroke down. That being said, I just don't think he will take Willie out this year.
The fun part about this match up is that it is two fan favorites. "Fear the beard" and the "Johnny" chants are always being yelled for these players. I think the beard is going to reign supreme putting up 17 points, less than Joanna Smith, but enough to beat Rakicevic.
Men vs. Women 3 Point Shootout
Match Up: Willie Conner vs. JoAnna Smith
Winner: JoAnna Smith
The classic men's vs. women's shootout. It's a staple in all college and high school three point contests and usually leads to some exciting rivalry in the battle of the genders. More often than not when I've seen this event, the female player wins. That won't change this year. I think Smith is such a great shooter and Conner may press in the second round trying to beat her. That will ultimately lead to his demise.
Smith will shoot laid back while still having that competitive fire going for her. I think she beats Willie Conner in a final round total of 16-13. The beard may start forcing and losing his mechanics if he gets off to a slow start and that's exactly what I feel will happen. But who knows, I could be terribly wrong about these predictions. Either way, the three point shootout will be fun.
Men's Series Shootout
Match Up: CJ Massinburg vs. Nick Perkins
Winner: CJ Massinburg
I'm not going to lie, I'm not really sure what a series shootout is. I'm assuming it's similar to the half time shows they put on where it involves a lay up, free throw, 3 pointer, and half court shot. Even with being not entirely sure, I still think CJ "Buckets" Massinburg comes away with the victory.
Massinburg was the pleasant surprise of the season last year when he burst on to the scene against Daemen. Since then, this talented player has been a fan favorite. His best game came against Ohio but he also played well against national powerhouse Duke. His unconventional shot style doesn't hurt his accuracy. Whenever he shot, you expected it to fall. I think he continues to light it up shooting during this event and brings home the win.
However don't think this is a gimme. Nick Perkins is a threat and he's only going to get better. For starters, Perkins appears to have slimmed down and has the look of someone who can dominate any game. I for one am excited to watch him play this year. He took us all by surprise last year when he began to pull up from behind the arc and line drive the ball in to the net. He also took Miami (FL) by surprise too. From videos that I've seen, Perkins seems to have more arc this season which will only improve his already impressive game.
As impressive as it is though, you can't pick against the guy whose nickname is "Buckets." This one should be exciting though as we get to see two of the most promising players of UB's future face off at Bulls Madness.
Women's Skill Competition
Match Up: Stephanie Reid vs. Cassie Oursler
Winner: Stephanie "Monday to Friday" Reid
Personally I feel like this match up is a little one sided. Stephanie Reid is a point guard and Cassie Oursler is a center. As a former center myself I know that we're coached never to dribble. Ever. So putting them in a skills competition seems unfair, but still should be fun to watch! I think Reid's dribbling ability will ultimately be the difference in this one but as we learned in the Women's MAC tournament, don't count anyone out.
Reid was the Buffalo Bulls most important player last season in my opinion. Even though she didn't score as much as Smith, she felt like the catalyst and leader to spark a run. Her ball handling skills are top notch and she makes circus shot layups that are impressive to watch. I think her natural skill set is what wins her this contest.
Oursler could surprise some people though. These two have great on-court chemistry as you saw from the screen and buzzer beater to defeat CMU last season. With every good on the court relationship, comes a good nature off the court rivalry. I think Oursler will use her frame to the best of her advantage and push Reid to have to perform top tier. This will be a fun one to watch.
Men's Dunk Contest
Participants: Quate McKinzie, James Jones, Davonta Jordan, Raheem Johnson, Ikenna Smart, David Kadiri
Winner: David Kadiri
The main event is the men's dunk contest. Everyone loves to see these freaks of nature athletes rise to new heights and slam the ball down with creativity and authority. This year, I think David Kadiri gets the job done and surprises many people.
The surprise would be that Quate McKinzie will not win. McKinzie, an athletic freshman is known for his dunking ability. When watching his highlight tape, it felt like I was watching an 8 minute dunk contest video he compiled for himself. The kid can get to the rim and has such finesse. Mostly everyone I've talked to says they believe it is his competition to lose, and they're probably right. I just don't think he will be able to top the length of Kadiri.
David Kadiri is a tall skinny guy and someone who I feel is being overlooked in this competition. In warm ups, these guys like to show off their dunking ability and Kadiri is always one of my favorites to watch. He's not on many people's radar in the dunk contest which is sometimes the best thing possible. The less they expect, the more impressive your dunk will look when you rock the rim. I think for sure he's going off the backboard and I'll say off the backboard windmill wins the contest.
Two players who I feel have a disadvantage are Ikenna Smart and Raheem Johnson. These are two big, strong guys. I feel like a 6'10 plus player dunking in a creative way will come off less impressive than James Jones or DaVonta Jordan. Centers never seem to fair well in the dunk contest because it's almost too expected. When a smaller player gets up with an amazing vertical, that's when the crowd losses it. I think all of these men will be wonderful players on the court, but this night will belong to David "DK" Kadiri.
I want to see what the Bull Run community is expecting. Who do you think comes out and wins these competitions?Comment your predictions and see if you can top me (you probably can). Also, if you're in the area or have a chance to make it out, come by for Bulls Madness. It's at Alumni Arena at 7 PM and it's just going to be a fun night (Ed. note: It's free!). Start creating that college game day atmosphere and cheer on the defending MAC Women's champion and the Two-time defending MAC Men's champion Bulls. It's just a fun night where the players get to show off their talents, before they begin the road to repeat. Enjoy it Bulls fans.