Game. Day. Some of my favorite words in sports. The Buffalo Bulls travel to Muncie Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals. This is a rematch of the earlier season matchup on January 14th when the Cardinals destroyed the Bulls 92-77. It was probably the second worst I had seen this team play this season only behind the Toledo game.
However, that was many games ago, and the Bulls seem to be trending towards what we know they can be, 3 time MAC champs. The past two game’s we’ve gotten to see the Blake Hamilton we expected to have all season, and the rest of the big four have been scoring, rebounding, and playing mostly good defense. This game tonight is huge as a win will most likely put is right in the top 4 of the MAC and only one game out of second. Besides Akron this season, the MAC is a scramble, that Buffalo is very much in. Let’s take a look at what to watch for in tonight’s match up.
What to Watch For
Limiting the Offensive Rebounds
Last time these two played, it felt as if Buffalo didn’t know how to box out. Trey Moses and Franko House both dominated the offensive glass. They’re both top 100 in the nation in offensive rebound percentage so it’s important to put a body on them. Ball State also takes a lot of threes so long rebounds will be common. That means unless five guys put a body on five guys, it could be a long game.
Can Blake Hamilton Keep Playing Within Himself
Blake is best when he doesn’t try and do too much. That is when he is phenomenal and put’s up the best numbers. During a stretch in the season it seemed like Hamilton was trying to play like a certain unnamed former point guard. That isn’t his game, and recently he’s gone away from that. Now it’s not a surprise if he flirts with a triple double. If Blake can continue to stay within himself, he will be the do-it-all player this team needs.
This is similar to limiting offensive boards. The last time we played this team, the Bulls let up 92 points. They’ve just gone back to back games allowing 91. While in both the last two games some insane threes were made by Kwan Cheatham and Marcus Keene, Buffalo needs to make sure they cover as tight as possible beyond the arc. I don’t think Ball State will shoot as well as they did last time we played. I expect the usual big time defenders Dontay Caruthers and Willie Conner to do very well tonight.
These next to games are HUGE. If we can win back to back against Ball State and NIU, then we can enter the easiest part of our MAC schedule at 6-5, on a three game winning streak, and in the top 4 of the MAC. I think the Bulls will avenge their earlier season loss. However this all depends on if they’re willing to keep working hard or if they get complacent after a big win. From what I’ve seen, this team is ready to work hard.