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Buffalo Bulls vs Bowling Green Falcons MAC Tournament Preview

UB Athletics

Two weeks ago, the UB Women beat Bowling Green in a game that we (accurately) felt would pretty much decide the 8/9 swing match of the MAC Tournament and wouldn't be the final meeting between the two teams this season. Despite an upset over Ohio, Buffalo couldn't get past Western Michigan with a late surge and will indeed host the Falcons today.

As I promised in the takeaways recap from that Buffalo win, the preview here isn't anything groundbreaking, especially since the script was nearly identical for both regular-season matchups. It's simply the perimeter versus the glass.

The Perimeter

As I pointed out in the regular season, Bowling Green has particular length from their defenders they can bring out to counteract at sharpshooting athletic threat like... Buffalo's Joanna Smith. Just thrice in MAC play has Smith not led the Bulls in scoring, and two are her matchups against the Falcon defence*.

*The other saw her score 24 to Stephanie Reid's 25 against Western Michigan.

Consider:

PPG RPG FG% 3P% FTA/G
vs MAC 19.3 6.4 38.00% 34.80% 3.3
vs BG 11.5 7.5 29.66% 7.10% 2.5

Smith has still found ways to be useful against the Falcons, but they shut her down like no one else has, especially from outside, where she's just 1-14 from distance, including the only game of the season that saw her held without a three. If Smith finds a few points before halftime, Bulls fans have to feel pretty good.

It's worth noting  that the junior is on something of a non-Bowling Green slow stretch as well. In the last two games, she's just 11-37 from the floor with her two lowest non-Bowling Green scoring outputs of the MAC season.

The Glass

You'll remember that despite Smith's struggles, Buffalo did win both against Bowling Green. The good news is that this advantage is much harder for the Falcons to overcome than the defense on Smith. (It's also good news that UB's found ridiculous rebounding success against all comers lately, but I've got to stay terse, here.)

I believe at times I've used the words 'hilarious margin' to describe the difference here, and it really is; in two games against Bowling Green, UB's had separate advantages of twenty-four and sixteen rebounds. In one game Bowling Green played every other stat except assists even. In the other they well outshot Buffalo and the secondary stats were even more well matched. But in both games UB found a win, in one taking advantage of high-percentage shots garnered from offensive rebounds and the other taking advantage of a staggering twenty-one extra shots.

You expect to have an advantage on your own defensive glass. Against Buffalo, Bowling Green does not: Cumulatively UB has pulled down 34 of 78 (46%) rebounding opportunities on their own missed shots.

You expect to get some offensive rebounds. Against Buffalo, Bowling Green cannot: Cumulatively, UB has pulled down 59 of 68 (87%) of rebounding opportunities on Falcon missed shots.

I frequently in my own reference default to the Four Factors of basketball success: effective FG%, Turnover%, ORB% and DRB%, and free throw efficiency.

UB is not a great team in at least half of these stats, and needs their top notch defense to win the eFG% battle most games. But against many teams, especially late this season, their rebounding prowess is alone winning them games. The advantage is so significant against Bowling Green, it's really all they've needed.