Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo plays Kent State to earn the right to probably beat Akron, while Eastern Michigan tries to continue its enervating defense against cross-state rival Western Michigan.
One game has mostly offense. The other is mostly defense. So if you prefer one style of basketball over the other, you get to pick! You are probably picking the offensive one, because what are you, some kind of galoot?
Both games will be available on MAC-Sports.com, ESPN3 and SportsTime Ohio.
|6:30 p.m.||(8) Buffalo (14-19, 7-9)||vs.||(4) Kent State (19-12, 9-7)|
Buffalo is not playing the hottest of basketball, but they did cool off a torrid Ball State team thanks to Will Regan's 36 points. It is safe to say they have the depth and potential to reach the MAC championship, as evidenced by the "sleeper" label I gave them. Standing in their way is the definition of a hot team, winners in eight of their last 10 games. Kent State won both matchups with UB this year, and you may recall the way the second one ended:
The winner of this game plays Akron in the semifinals, and both teams should be salivating over that, given the Zips' only MAC losses were to them.
Dumb Prediction: Three games in four days is a lot, even for Buffalo. If this tournament format holds I think you may see a pattern where first round teams just keep slamming into quarterfinal-shaped walls because legs are human body parts that need time to energize. Kent State wins 73-68.
|9:00 p.m.||(7) Eastern Michigan (16-17, 7-9)||vs.||(3) Western Michigan (19-11, 10-6)|
Eastern Michigan's defense is about as #antiMACtion as it gets. Suffocating defense, slow tempo and a race to 50 points. But it works for them; Rob Murphy cares not for your shootouts and your thrilling offensive numbers. Now, Western Michigan isn't the most exciting team either, but they do average a point per possession and also feature some nice lockdown defense, especially inside the perimeter — teams shoot a MAC-poorest 42 percent on 2-pointers against the Broncos, and WMU is one of the top rebounding teams in the conference. But they did split the season series; EMU won 50-49, while Western took their game 63-59.
Dumb Prediction: Defense wins championships, but you also need enough offense and Eastern doesn't have it. In yet another slow-as-molasses game (it just HAD to be the night game), Western Michigan oughta make the semifinal game with a 58-54 victory.