The Buffalo Bulls are back in action for the second time this week as MAC play continues. This game, is arguably the biggest game of the season for the Bulls before the MAC tournament. They take on the Ball State Cardinals (10-4) in a battle of the undisputed top two teams in the conference.
The Cardinals, led by Tayler Persons currently have a nine game winning streak that includes the huge win against in state rival and top 10 Notre Dame. The Cardinals are playing some good basketball right now including a 10 point win to open up MAC play against EMU. While trailing at the half, Ball State adjusted and dominated in the second half, even limiting the MAC’s best big man, James Thompson IV, to just 8 points. The Cardinals are a strong team inside, and this may cause issues for the Bulls.
The Cardinals also have a very talented player running the point in Persons. Not having notable lock down defender Dontay Caruthers will hurt the Bulls in covering him, but I expect you see Wes Clark and Davonta Jordan split time covering him. If they can keep him uneasy and control the tempo of the game, UB should be able to get out of Muncie with a win.
What to Watch For
Clark has been everything we’ve been promised so far. He’s been a leader on the court and seems to have a calming effect on the Bulls when things seem to be slipping away. He controls the game and can score seemingly at will. If Buffalo wants any shot to win, they need another big game out of Clark
There is no secret that this is the weakest area for the Bulls. Besides Nick Perkins, there has been no consistent play from their bigs. Trey Moses is a very strong player for the Cardinals and I think Buffalo will have their hands full inside all game, especially if Pekins finds himself in foul trouble.
Who takes control of the MAC
Going off of the KenPom rankings as I normally do, Ball State is 106 and Buffalo is 117. The next highest in the MAC is Toledo at 150, a team UB just beat by 10. This game is basically going to set the standard of the “best MAC team.” I expect both teams to play at a very high level and to eventually have a rematch in the MAC tournament. The Bulls are helped by playing in the East, a far easier division than the West this season, so this might not be a make or break game for the Bulls, where it may effect the Cardinals more.
This is going to be a tough, fast-paced game, and I cant wait. This is a good early season MAC test that if the Bulls can win, will make them much stronger heading forward. I would love to see our guys play as well as they did on offense tomorrow as they did against Toledo, and hopefully try and limit the Cardinal offense in the way they couldn’t the Rockets. Overall, it’s going to be a fun game, and you aren’t going to want to miss it. Enjoy the game, and as always, Go Bulls!