Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Finale: The Bulls

So, it's been 119 days and the last regular-season game is at hand.  It's been a great season, with BG set to finish no worse than 3rd in the MAC.  The Falcons will end the season with their toughest game--a game at the Buffalo Bulls.  They are the #19 team in the country based on the polls.  They are 23rd in the Kenpom.

And, of course, in the highest point of the season for BG, the Falcons beat UB by 4 at the Stroh early in February.  It was BG's biggest wins in years, because this Buffalo team is no joke.  They are the highest rank team since that Kent team in 2002.  They are 27-3 and are set to win the MAC by at least 3 games.

They lead the MAC in offense and defense.  They are the #17 most experienced team in D1 basketball. 

Since losing to BG, they've won the next 8 games.

They've won 25 straight at home, including all of the games this year.  Their last home loss was December 2 of 2017 to St. Bonaventure.

And, of course, they beat Arizona in the NCAA Tournament last year.  They will enter the MAC Tournament as prohibitive favorites and even if they don't win, they'll end up in the big dance as the first MAC at-large in 20 years.

These guys are very good.  And yet, the Falcons harnessed the home crowd and delivered the big win. 

How did it happen?  First, BG matched UB in shooting.   Then, BG reversed the normal UB trend and did twice as well on turnovers as the Bulls.  BG was smoked on the boards, but made it up with a big difference at the free throw line.  Frye had 25, Turner 22 and Wiggins 17 (on 11 made FTs). 

CJ Massinburg leads the Bulls.  He's the returning MAC Player of the Year and I would expect him to win it again this year.  He's the most efficient offensive player in the MAC and #14 in the country.  He's 8th in shooting the 2FG, 12th in shooting the 3, #11 at the free throw line.  He's 6th in turnover rate.  He's a complete player and the best in the MAC.

They also feature Nick Perkins--almost certain to be the 6th man of the year--Jeremy Harris, Dontay Carruthers.  They are deep, they keep you under constant pressure and have no holes in their game.

They beat Ohio U by 47 a couple weeks ago.  If BG plays like they have in 3 of their last 4 games, that's what will happen in this one, too.  BG is a 14-point underdog and will need to play as well as they can play to be competitive in this one...on the road.  In a sense, it doesn't matter.  BG will be #3 when the tournament opens.  But you don't want to have to turn it back on again after a weak effort in let's hope the Falcons play with the kind of 40-minute intensity it will take to be competitive.

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