If the MAC tournament started today, Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball would be clinging onto a home playoff game at the #8 seed. For the past two games, the Bulls have lost on late free throws and are oh so close to putting the final pieces together to be able to beat anyone in the conference on a given night. Today, they face a big challenge as the Bulls will have to face Central Michigan and the leading scorer in the nation.
Keno Davis is currently in his fifth year coaching the Chippewas and has taken a the program to a point where it sits in the top-half of the conference consistently. Davis’ squad finished last year 17-16 but managed to secure a CIT berth and a 10-8 record in the MAC. The year prior, his Chippewas made it to the MAC tournament final before falling to Buffalo. Davis also holds a 135-120 career coaching record.
The Chippewas currently stand at 14-7 on the season and with an even .500 record in the MAC. CMU has been able to win against all of the lesser MAC opponents they’ve faced but have faltered against the favorites to compete for the conference title.
CMU is lead by two prolific scorers with a 5-9 stature. Marcus Keene is on his way to becoming the first player in decades to average over 30 points per game in Division I basketball. 30 points per game is one thing, but Keene isn’t just tossing up a ton of shots and hoping for the best, he’s making a high percentage of them at 46% from the floor. The Chips also have a heavy reliance on Braylon Rayson at off-guard, scoring 20 points per game.
What to watch for
1. Willie Conner
Buffalo needs an excellent defensive game from their best perimeter defender. We’re not asking for the senior wing to hold Keene to 10 points per game, but the Bulls really need to hold him to his average. Anything more will be bad news Bulls.
2. Dontay Caruthers
The other excellent defender on UB’s squad will also have his hands full and chances are he’s going to be matched up with CMU’s Rayson on defense. Caruthers has had some trouble in the past two games with foul trouble and turnovers and coincidentally they both ended in losses. UB’s extremely reliant on the sophomore and need a good game from him tonight.
3. Be aggressive and turn the ball over
CMU happens to be the 3rd best team in the nation at maintaining control in the ball, turning it over in just 14.2% of their possessions. This will be a good challenge for UB, because they’re not doing a good enough job right now at forcing any turnovers.
4. Take advantage of the lax defense from beyond the arc
The Chips can’t defend for the life of them, in fact, they’re the worst team in the MAC in that regard. Although I’ve been an opponent to UB’s excessive three-point shooting when the shots aren’t falling, shooting the three-ball a lot might be helpful in this game.