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Men’s Basketball MAC Championship Preview: Buffalo Bulls vs. Toledo Rockets


Was one championship game not enough for you? Well good, because after the Women’s MAC Championship Game, the Buffalo Bulls will take the court again, this time on the Men’s side. The Bulls, coming off a big win against Kent State will take on the Toledo Rockets in another battle of the top seeds. The big difference between the men and the women? The men are playing for their NCAA tournament lives tonight.

Buffalo is all about speed on offense, which could pay off against the Rockets who are just the 261st ranked defense in the nation. However, the key to victory will be on the defensive end. UB is allowing just 67.5 PPG in Cleveland so far, which has helped lead them to two victories. The Rocket’s are a top 40 offense in the nation, however that may come with an asterisk mark tonight.

The Rockets MAC POTY Tre’Shaun Fletcher went down in the quarterfinals which looked like a knee injury without contact. Fletcher tried to play on that knee yesterday, before dropping in severe pain after scoring the games first basket. He’s officially listed as questionable, but I personally would be shocked to see him play today.

That means the Bulls defensive focus should turn towards Willie Jackson, who had the best game of his career in the semifinals, including hitting the go ahead three. Dontay Caruthers will need to be as tough on the perimeter as he has been all season, considering Davonta Jordan still appears to be banged up. The key for the Rockets will be if they have the energy to keep up with the speed of the Bulls, especially playing their third game in three days. Let’s take a look at what else to look for in today’s championship match up.

What to Watch For

Who establishes themselves first

Obviously, this game is huge for both the Rockets and Bulls. UB fans have been loud and traveled well, especially with the women’s success, and Toledo is the closest school to Cleveland. That means we are looking at a very electric Quicken Loans Arena, and whichever team capitalizes on the early energy should be looking good for the rest of the game.

CJ Massinburg

While Massinburg hasn’t been scoring as much as his normal amount, he’s been doing it all this tournament, through vocal leadership and rebounding. CJ Buckets is the leader of this team, and a man who has been through this before. If he keeps the team focused, the Bulls will benefit greatly.

Jeremy Harris

Could I really go the entire game preview without talking about the tournament MVP up to this point? Harris has been unreal from deep, as well as entering attack mode of the dribble. With 27 points in game one, and 22 points in game two, Harris has been everything and more for the Bulls this tournament. When his shot goes up, you expect it to go in, and if that continues, you may see the Bulls dancing after tonight.

Final Thoughts

This game is one we expected to play in all season. It wasn’t always the smoothest route, the fans didn’t always agree, but the Bulls have made it. This team has all the potential in the world, and it would be a real shame to not see that talent in March. Obviously both these teams are talented, they wouldn’t be here otherwise. But with the Fletcher injury and the Bulls overall talent, I believe if UB plays up to their potential, we will be celebrating. Enjoy the game Bulls fan, this doesn’t happen every year (stupid 2017) and embrace every moment. As always, go Bulls!