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MAC Tournament Preview: Bulls have a solid shot at the three-peat

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Photo Courtesy of UB Athletics

Ticket punched.

Winning eight of their last ten games, Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball has put it all together at the right time for the third straight year. With their win against Bowling Green, the Bulls clinched the #3 seed and quarterfinal bye to the Mid-American Conference tournament. But, if the Bulls want to win their third consecutive MAC Tourney, it won’t be an easy road.

Photo Courtesy of the Mid-American Conference

Buffalo didn’t get any help with the way that the seeding played out for this year’s tournament. The Bulls will be facing the winner of #6 Kent State and #11 Central Michigan—both extremely dangerous teams that could be trendy upset picks to take down the Bulls.

Central Michigan may have lost their last seven games, but a back-court consisting of the nation’s leading scorer Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson is not something to overlook. This is especially true if the Bulls were to have a bad night offensively.

The idea of having to face a team like Kent State is also troubling. The Golden Flashes are one of the best teams in the nation at offensive rebounding and are no doubt the second most “athletic” team in the conference. UB’s interior defense hasn’t been the greatest as of late, leaving a tough task in defending Kent’s Jimmy Hall.

If UB can take down either of these teams, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that Ohio will be the team awaiting them in the semi-finals. The Bobcats may be missing the defending MAC Player of the Year to a season ending injury, but the leadership of Jaaron Simmons at point guard is the best in the conference. The Bulls split their pair of meetings with the Bobcats this year, with each team winning on the road. UB will need another hot shooting night from within the arc and to bully Ohio’s forwards in the paint.

I hate assuming, but it’s hard to bet against Akron being in the MAC finals again this year, and should Buffalo make it that far, that’s who they’ll meet. Akron has a really easy road to get a shot at the championship. The Zips will face the winner of two downwards trending teams and might have trouble with a hot Western Michigan team if they can get past Ball State.

Regardless, if Buffalo wants to beat Akron in the scenario of the two teams facing in the championship round, UB needs to hamper one of two aspects the Zips strive on. Buffalo either needs to hold the Zips to under 40% in three-point shooting OR stop Isaiah Johnson from being a factor. If Akron can manage to shoot the three-ball well and have their “Big Dog” score down low, UB will not win that game.

If I had to give a prediction for the Bulls winning the whole tournament, I’d say the Bulls win it one out of every three times. UB’s the most talented in the MAC, but they have yet to prove they can take down MAC East juggernaut Akron. We’ll see what this week has in store.

Welcome to March, UB Men’s Basketball. May the odds be ever in your favor.