Get up it’s game day! The Buffalo Bulls take on the Kent State Golden Flashes in the first round of the MAC Tournament! Today is step one for UB as they look to become the first ever team to win three straight MAC Championships, while Kent State has the dream of knocking out the champs.
This is a match up that features two of the top rebounding teams in the country. That is about the only similarity between these teams as Buffalo relies on athleticism where as Kent relies on just pounding the ball inside to Jimmy Hall. Overall this is one of those games where I’m worried, but also confident. To explain more about the oxymoron of my emotions, let’s look at what to watch for.
What to Watch For
Is Kent State tired?
In a good scenario for the Bulls, Kent State went to OT in their campus round match up with CMU. The Golden Flashes are not the deepest team in the world and that showed. four players recorded over 40 minutes on the floor including star center Jimmy Hall who played 44 of them. That is a lot to put on your body with another game looming.
Buffalo likes to run a fast paced offense and could expose some tired legs early in this game. Look for UB to try and tire out the Golden Flashes quickly and hopefully nullify some of Jimmy Halls dominance inside. I expect Blake Hamilton to try and push the offense and try and get to the rim as often as possible.
Do the Bulls have a better offensive game than the last meeting?
Last time these two teams played, Buffalo was overall mediocre from the field. The Bulls shot just over 20% from beyond the arc and never seemed to find a rhythm. I”m looking for CJ Massinburg and reigning MAC Tournament MVP Willie Conner to step up for the Bulls in this one. If they can enter “Cleveland Mode” and start getting hot from deep, I think the Bulls will take this one.
If I haven’t made it clear enough here we go. THE KEY TO STOPPING KENT STATE IS STOPPING JIMMY HALL. Hall will sit in the paint and back down players all game if you let him. He has a great baby hook and it can be lethal to teams. The Bulls will need strong games from David Kadiri, Nick Perkins, Ikenna Smart, and Raheem Johnson to beat them inside. I hope to see a guard assist the big men when they get posted up on to try and knock the ball loose. If Jimmy Hall is held under 20 points, I don’t see how the Bulls lose.
Kent State is no cake walk. But nobody will be this time of year. That’s what’s so great about March Madness. It’s the best of the best battling it out to prove who reigns supreme. I think the Bulls are in for a physical dog fight on every play, and I believe their athleticism will carry them through to the next round. If you’re down in Cleveland, have a great time, make some noise, and I hope I see you Friday. Go Bulls.