Thursday, February 09, 2017

Buffalo Comes to Town

So here come the Buffalo Bulls.  This is going to be interesting.  First, BG has won three straight games for the first time in the Huger era.  They had a nice crowd for the UT game and rewarded the fans with a win.  Hopefully, some of those people will be back.  With the logjammed MAC, both teams are in the running for a home spot or even, at least mathematically, a bye.

Buffalo started 3-5 in MAC play, but since then they have also won 3 in a row.  They beat CMU by 10 in Buffalo, won @Ball State by 27 and then beat NIU by 20.  So, they have been winning and blowing people out of late.  They lost to Miami...and @UT by 32.

And, they are two-time defending MAC Champions.

So, starting at the top...the UB defense is 3rd in the MAC and BG is 10th, so that's actually a pretty even match up.  Where the difference comes is on offense for UB.  It is interesting...UB is 8th in offense and BG is 8th in defense, which oddly leaves BG allowing more points than UB is used to scoring.  A little about the UB hot streak in a second, but for now it would appear to me that BG's ability to defend is going to be key to winning the game.

We will start with the close one first.  As you can see, what BG is used to doing offensively is what UB is used to allowing.  Which is not too much.  They are 2nd at defending the shot and 4th and keeping teams off the boards.  The big difference is at the FT line.  UB is 10th in the MAC in allowing teams to the FT line.

On the other side of the ledger, we see stats for the entire MAC season.  UB is 9th in FG shooting, 6th at taking care of the ball, 4th at offensive rebounding and 8th at getting to the FT line.  You always look here for the spreads...and it comes on the most important factor.  BG is 11th defending the shot, so you have a poor shooting team against a poor FG defense team.

One thing that's interesting is that until their last game, UB had been very hot shooting.  Counting the Akron 1-point loss, the CMU win and the Ball State win, UB shot 45%, 42% and 46% from 3FG.  They had over 1.2 points per possession in each of the games.  (The NIU win they got when NIU couldn't make any shots at all). 

So, anyway, that makes them a different team, as we see here.  For the year, UB is last in the MAC in 3FG% and 4th in the rate they try them.  Unless BG shoots as well as they did against UT, they are going to need to get some stops to keep UB close.  

They are also pretty much as poor at shooting FTs as BG is.

UB has four players scoring in double figures (all games now).  Two are seniors and 2 are sophomores.  Their leading scorer is Blake Hamilton with a relatively inefficient 16.8 PPG on 42% shooting, 4.4 assists per game and 6.4 RPG.  

So. CJ Massinburg is scoring 14 PPG with pretty much the exactly shooting percentages as Hamilton.   Classmate Nick Perkins is scoring 13.9 PPG on 44% shooting and a team high 7.2 RPG.  G Willie Conner scores 12.9 PPG on 41% shooting.

Buffalo is playing really well and BG is playing as well as it has all season.  This is an opportunity to show some sustained success at home, where you need to win.  (Home teams are winning 59% of conference games, making the MAC the 15th toughest conference to win on the road in).  I have said several times this year that BG had yet to really exceed expectations at any point.  I'd say beating UT and Kent in the same week is the first time.  A 4th straight win would be a for sure.

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