2014 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament: Buffalo vs. Eastern Michigan Preview

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's a showcase of big men and offense versus defense in the 2nd half of tonight's MAC tournament doubleheader at the Q. Will the MAC Player of the Year reign supreme, or will Glenn Bryant push the Eagles to the next level?

The #3 Buffalo Bulls and #6 Eastern Michigan Eagles square off in the second half of tonight's Mid-American Conference Men's Basketball Tournament third round doubleheader. The Bulls enter tonight with a 19-9 record, while the Eagles are 20-13.

These two teams played once against each other during the regular season, and Buffalo beat Eastern Michigan at home 76-66 on Jan. 11th. In that game, EMU allowed 15 points above their season average despite holding Buffalo to under 40 percent from the floor. They allowed MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea to score only 10 points, and he took only three shots from the free throw line. The Eagles also out-rebounded the Bulls 44-37.

EMU's primary problems in Buffalo were turnovers and shooting from beyond the arc. The Eagles forced only eight turnovers and committed 17 of their own, and they allowed Buffalo to make eight shots from long range while they made only three of 17. Four of Buffalo's eight 3-pointers came from bench guard Jarryn Skeete, who scored a game-high 19 points in 27 minutes.

Glenn Bryant and Da'Shonte Riley both had solid games. Bryant scored 19 and had 10 rebounds, while Riley added 11 more. Bryant and Riley combined for nine offensive rebounds. Karrington Ward and guards Ray Lee and Mike Talley all played well on offense, but the guard play on defense was lacking at times.

The problem for the Eagles is that McCrea is so good, you have to devote extra defenders to the paint, which frees up others such as Skeete and Joshua Freelove. To win, EMU will have to find a way to contain McCrea on the inside with Bryant and Riley and then win the individual one-on-one matchups on the perimeter. Buffalo has several dynamic options and can either choose to feed McCrea constantly, or they can work the ball inside-out to find open shots outside. In any event, as long as the offense is going through McCrea, the Bulls should be fine.

This game will start at 9:00 p.m. EST or 30 minutes after the Akron/Ohio game ends (if it ends after 8:30 p.m.). It will be televised live by Time Warner Cable Sports Channel, and it can be streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN application, as well as via the MAC Digital Network at mac-sports.com.

The winner of tonight's contest will move on to face the #2 Toledo Rockets on Friday night. That game will also begin at 9:00 p.m. EST.

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