Marcus Keene is coming off a 41 point performance, and the Chippewas have won 3 in a row, and 4 out of 5. The Bulls recently lost a couple of close games on a disappointing season. Central Michigan rebounded after a rough start to league play, and with their talent, there is no reason to think Buffalo can not to do the same.
When: 7pm, Tuesday, January 31st
Where: Alumni Arena, Amherst, New York
Watch: ESPN 3
Listen: 1520AM WWKB in Buffalo/ 98.5 WUPS in Mt. Pleasant
Line: Buffalo -6
Scouting the Bulls
The Buffalo Bulls come into the game 10-11, and 3-5 in conference play.
Buffalo is a hard team to nail down this season. They are the returning MAC tournament champions, and are loaded with talent. Early in the year, they were content to shoot lazy jumpers. More recently, they have been driving to the basket much better, but have missed some easy shots and turned the ball over when doing so.
Statistically, they are a middle of the road team, but that’s more a product of inconsistent play than their ability. When they are firing on all cylinders, they are as tough as anyone in the MAC.
They are a long, athletic team that can do every phase of the game well. If there is an Achilles’ Heel, it’s their outside shooting. They are 11th in MAC in three point percentage, and 10th in free throw percentage.
Scouting the Chippewas
The Central Michigan Chippewas are 14-7 on the year, and 4-4 in the MAC.
Central Michigan is leading the MAC at just under 90 points per game. Second place is almost 9 full points behind them. They are number 12 in defense. 11th place is almost 5 points per game better.
They are who they are. They’ll score, and they will be scored on. A 10 point lead in this game could evaporate in mere minutes.
There is no real secret to their offense. They have two amazing 5’9 guards that have absolutely zero conscious when shooting the basketball. Braylon Rayson is third in the MAC, at 20 points a game. Marcus Keene is number 1 in the nation, 30.3 points per game. If he finishes with that average, he will be number in the nation over the last 20 years.
Their Achilles’ heel, other than, or included in their defense, is their inability to rebound. They are next to last in the MAC in rebounding margin. It’s hard to bank on rebounding against them, though, because they shoot so many jumpers. Long rebounds negate a great inside presence.
Players to Watch
Blake Hamilton, Buffalo: Averaging 16.9 points per game, and 6.3 rebounds, the senior forward is the statistical leader for the Bulls. The problem is that his inconsistent. In his last three games, he scored 33, 5, and 15. I hate to say one player is the key to the game, but he kind of is.
Nick Perkins, Buffalo: Perkins has been a steadying presence in league play. He is the Bulls best rebounder, and I expect great things in the future from this sophomore from Ypsilanti.
Braylon Rayson, Central Michigan: The season that he is having isn’t getting the credit it deserves because of the fantastic season Keene is having. They are very similar players with similar skill sets. It should be terrifying to teams that if you shut Keene down, this guy could heat up and drop 40.
David DiLeo, Central Michigan: DiLeo has been wildly inconsistent this year, but after Rayson and Keene, he is the only other Chippewa averaging over 10 points per contest. The 6’8 forward has been improving as the season moves along, but only had 6 in the overtime win against Kent. He might be hitting that freshman wall.
If you are wondering where Marcus Keene is on the list, it’s a given that any game he is in, he is a player to watch.
Keys to the Game
Sometimes we sports writers over analyze it. This game is about as simple as it gets. Put the dang ball in the basket.
Buffalo has an advantage down low, and Central can run with anyone. On their secondary break, they spot up better than anyone. I expect both teams will take advantage of their strengths, but at the end of the day, the hotter team will win.
With Buffalo having the home court advantage, it’s really all about how they react to the couple of heartbreaking losses.
I don’t think it’s a hot take to say this game could see both teams in the 100s. A wise man once said “It’s always wise to take the home team in a shootout, until they go cold.” This was a hard one to predict, but I am going with Buffalo, 88-85.