Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Season Finale Preview

So we have reached the end of the least the regular season road.  As always seems to be the case, the Falcons will wrap things up in Buffalo in a meaningful game...for both teams, but more for the Bulls, who can work their way into a bye, which is huge.  BG needs three things to happen to get a home game, one of which is to beat UB.

UB is good and playing well.  And, of course, they are the two-time defending champion.  I think there are 3 teams that could win the MAC next week at the Q, and those are Akron, UB and Kent.  I don't see it being OU, but I guess they could be the 4th.

They are 10-7 in MAC play after a 3-5 start.  They had a little bump when they lost at home to Kent and Akron, but then they rallied to beat OU in Athens on Tuesday night.

They beat BG pretty handily at the Stroh earlier this year.  The game was close into the second half, but then the Bulls went on a 16-2 run and blew the lead open and had cruised to the win.  The basic storyline was the UB pounded the ball inside relentlessly and effectively and BG was unable to get the ball anywhere near the hoop.  Buffalo is just tougher and stronger than BG---or they were that day.  As you can see, BG shot the ball a little bit above league average, but UB shot it through the roof.  It was the worst defensive game for BG up to that time and has been since been eclipsed by the 2nd OU game.  UB had trouble taking care of the ball, which kept the game close, but they ended up shooting a bunch of FTs, too.

Looking at the season, we see UB and BG pretty much produce the same amount on both ends of the court.  The Bulls are a defensive team, mostly.  They are #2 in the MAC in defensive efficiency and #7 in offensive efficiency.  BG, as we know, is 10th in offense and 11th in defense.

Same pattern is here.   BG is a poor offensive team and UB a good defensive team, so things are pretty much equal in terms of what to expect.  They are very good at defending the shot and on the offensive boards and they are just OK at forcing turnovers.  They do give up a lot of FTs, 11th in the MAC.  As noted from the first game, Buffalo is #2 in the MAC in defending the 2FG.

As usual, BG allows higher shooting than their opponents come in with.  However, in this case, the spread is not as large as it often is.  UB is only #7 in the MAC in shooting.  They also are 8th in turnovers....but 2nd in offensive rebounds and 5th in getting to the FT line...but only 8th in making FTs.  They are 8th in 3FG and 5th in 2FGs.  They are just a good but not great offensive team.  They certainly looked like a great one in the first game, so let's hope that doesn't happen again.

They are led by Blake Hamilton, who is a first-team All-MAC player in my book.  He is scoring 16.9 PPG, 6 RPG and 5 APG.  He isn't terribly efficient, shooting 42%, but he's a very good player.  CJ Massinburg scores 14.6 PPG on 43% shooting and 6 RPG.  Willie Conner is scoring 12 PPG on 42% shooting. Nick Perkins has 11.7 PPG on 42% shooting.  Basically, UB's best players are not great shooters.  Also, in game 1 Dontay Caruthers had a huge game as well.

So, the regular season comes to an end Friday.  BG has pretty much been as expected...maybe just a TICK better.  A win Friday certainly changes that.  And, of course, there's the tournament.

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