What a basketball season it has been. It was full of completely different vibes than last season but here we are with two teams that each can make some noise in the tournament. Before I get into specifics about how we could win, it is required of you to read Matt's article on preseason expectations. To be able to say that we have two teams this season that can compete for a championship is crazy considering that close to everything went wrong in the offseason. You have been gifted with two coaches that don't want to rebuild and know how to deal with heavy losses on a roster.
So what I'm saying is, you should already be proud no matter the outcome. Let's dive in and get started here:
After the greatest season in UB Hoops history, many counted them out at the start. You really needed to be an optimist (like myself) and look extensively at the recruits Coach Oats was pulling in to think we had a shot at getting a top-four seed. The men's basketball team has just about reloaded from last season and are now sitting at the #3 spot going into the MAC tourney.
So let's look at the bullets we miss thanks to how the seeds play out:
1. SAY HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE (to EMU of course)
If I had to pick one team that I don't want to face in a single elimination postseason tourney; it would most definitely have to be Eastern Michigan. To say that the Eagles have us figured out is an understatement. I don't want to ever see us play against them for as long as they play that nasty 2-3 zone with a little bit of 3-2 sprinkled in. We are downright terrible against the zone and I would hope that changes but there are no guarantees.
2. We don't have to worry (yet) about Akron
Although many would argue there is practically no difference in the #3 and #4 seed, I beg to differ. We don't match up well with Akron. It's not to the degree of EMU but I don't see this team beating Akron on a "neutral" court. I would rather a Central Michigan or an EMU pull off that upset.
So there are some things that are bad:
1. Miami and WMU
These are two teams that can both make the semi's in my opinion and they can both destroy us with some zone defense. I want to see a Ball State or NIU in the semi-finals more than the other two lower seeds.
2. Our record vs. this half of the bracket
Go over to the other side and we have a 7-4 record. Over here at the #3 spot we only have an abysmal 3-4.
Chances of winning
Versus Ball State/Miami: Put us against Ball State and I think we have an 80% chance even when the refs are foul happy like our last two games with them. Miami is split even with me. They gave us trouble in 75% of the minutes we've played against them and anyone can win in that matchup.
Versus NIU/Ohio/WMU: That is the order of preference I'd like to see for the next game. I think our best chance is against NIU. Whenever they switched over to a 2-3 Zone, we trashed them (which is a first for this team). They are even more on the downtrend as of late. I think we match up pretty evenly with Ohio even though we haven't closed just yet. They could be this year's CMU in which we finally knock them down in the tourney. Like I said before, I'm scared of WMU. I think we are underdogs in that game even though they'll need everything from Thomas Wilder to beat us.
Well, I'm just going to assume they make it to the championship. If this happens, I think that we have a 30% chance in this. Akron plays like a team and UB needs to match that effort to grab their second consecutive MACC.
Just like the men, the women had a rough offseason and now are comprised of a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. What they've been able to do this season is nothing short of fantastic and if they didn't have the rough slump midway through MAC play; I could've seen them with a top-four bye. They are the only team to beat Ohio in conference play and twice this season. With that being said, they're still only an eight seed. If they play like they did versus Ohio both times, you'll be seeing the spoiler team in action.
1. No WMU or Ball State
It's weird but, I don't want to see us against any team that represents Kalamazoo. When the Bulls faced the Broncos back in January, it was a nightmare. Yeah, we had a great night on offense but WMU completely controlled the pace and there is no way that this year's team can put up 92 on the board (unless of we're going against Clarion). As for Ball State, I wouldn't have seen us get a win either. Both times we played against them were probably in my top-five favorite games I've watched from this year's team. But, BSU found a way late in the going to win each time and that alone has me happy we're on the other side.
2. Bowling Green
Even though it was a defensive slugfest last time, I feel that we have the Falcons figured out as they don't really have an answer for our defense. If there's a team that I want to face again, it's this one.
1. Well, possibly having to face Ohio again is bad.
We swept them this season but there is no guarantee whatsoever that can do it for a third time. Ohio will be out for a heavy dose of vengeance if we were to meet again.
Chances of winning:
Versus Bowling Green: I've already said my opinion on how we fare versus BG. I definitely think we have the advantage, especially with what SHOULD BE A RECORD CROWD at alumni tonight.
Versus Ohio: I REALLY like our chances of going to semi-finals. Ohio can't be downplayed though and what will be key again is shutting down Kiyanna Black and rebounding big time against the Bobcats. I say we still only have a 30% chance of winning but that's probably underrated.
Versus Akron/Toledo: Sorry Miami, I don't see you making it past the first round. If we somehow make it this far, I hate our chances of going further. I would much rather play Akron in this one as I'd say it's split down the middle. If we face Toledo again, I think they run away with it.
Versus CMU/Ball State: If we make the finals, the universe isn't going to hand the MACC to us. We'll definitely be playing one of those two teams. I'll give us split odds with Ball but I'd like to play against CMU. Not only did we beat them but it'd be nice to say we took down #1 and #2 en route to a title.
I have one more thing to say:
Sit back, relax, AND, enjoy both of these tourneys. Let's take it one game at a time and praise both of these teams for blowing all expectations out of the water. Who knows, we might see a team in the big dance.