There is an upside to having two of your three poor games against weak teams in the conference: Tie Breakers!
In a piece yesterday Matt alluded to how good our tie breakers currently look going into the final eight games.
Mid American Conference Men's Basketball standings, tiebreakers, and Buffalo rooting interests - Bull Run
Remember that UB now has an unbreakable tiebreaker advantage over CMU, Ball State, and NIU, and is up 1-0 with home games remaining against Kent State and Toledo. I haven't done all the math, but if the Bulls simply win out at home - five of their final eight games - they'll almost certainly grab the #2 seed.
UB currently owns tiebreakers over five of the seven other teams among the MAC's top eight schools. The exception are Akron, to whom we are down 1-0, and Ohio, whom we have not played.
The next two home games are home contests against the Toledo Rockets and the Ohio Bobcats. If UB manages to win these two games they will own the tiebreaker over Toledo, and guarantee the the Best Ohio could do is go 1-1 against Buffalo.
Winning the next two would put Buffalo at 9-3 and the Bulls would have three "should win" games left. Two against 4-6 Bowling Green and one, at home, against 2-8 Miami.
These next two games set the table for twelve or more wins in MAC play. Last season 12-6 was good for a share of the MAC regular season title.
This year 12 wins probably don't get a share of the title but along with our tie breakers it is almost certainly going to get us the #2 seed.
That's important because being #1 or #2 would put us on the other side of the bracket from Akron, who most see as the class of the conference.
Elsewhere This Week
CMU and Ball State (and a little Ohio)
During that same two game string Ball State and CMU play each other. So we know one will lose at least one more game, good news for UB.
Also of interest is that Ohio will play Ball State. This is, once again, a situation where UB wins no matter what happens.
If Ohio wins then Ball State falls another game behind is, and we own the tie breaker.
If Ball State wins that game then Ohio, the only team of note other than Akron who can possibly win a tie breaker with Buffalo, would be three games behind the Bulls heading into a Friday date at Alumni Arena.
Kent State and KRONNNNNNNNNN!
We also know that either Kent or Akron will lose a game. Either scenario is good news for UB but for different reasons.
If Kent wins and UB wins out then the Bulls could go a game up on Akron and have a heads up push in the tie breaker.
If Akron wins they stay a game above UB but Kent would fall a full two games behind the Bulls. This is important because there is a slight chance that Kent could win a multi-step tie breaker over UB by winning the upcoming game against Akron, beating UB to even up that series, and getting a second Buffalo loss to the Zips to give them the breaker on the second criteria.
But before any of this matters UB needs to get by Toledo. The Rockets sure struggled huge early this season but they seem to have turned things around. UB beat them three games ago and the then 3-5 Rockets were a head scratcher. Since then they rolled off two wins to even up their record and pull to within just a game of Ball State and CMU for the top spot in the MAC West.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES MAY BE THE BIGGEST OF THE SEASON FOR UB
What can fans do?
Win both games and it's hard to see UB not getting a bye to Cleveland. Lose both and we are likely sitting outside the top four and staring at a road trip to Akron.
UB's last home game against Eastern Michigan had about 3,400 people there. That's an OK number but if we want a real home court advantage that number needs to be north of four thousand people. Last season the year turned around in a big way when nearly six thousand strong showed up to cow Kent State on national TV.
To have that many show up this week would be huge for the department, and the team, and everyone's postseason hopes.