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Speaking of NCAA At-Large Bids, Central Michigan vs. Buffalo is Tonight!

This should be an exciting contest between great teams

Kenneth Bailey

Both teams sit at 16-3 overall. The Buffalo Bulls are 7-1 in conference play. The Central Michigan Chippewas are an undefeated 8 and zero. In the RPI rankings, CMU sits at 36, while Buffalo is in the top 25. This game is going to be fun!


Game Details

  • When: January 31st, 7pm
  • Where: McGuirk Arena, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
  • Watch: ESPN3 or via stream on the WatchESPN app
  • Listen: ESPN 1520 in Buffalo, WMHW 91.5 in Mount Pleasant

Scouting the Bulls

Buffalo is a scrappy team that has taken on the personality of their point guard, Stephanie Reid. The team plays both ends of the floor, hustles, and their constant motion frustrates the opposition. They are a loaded team that doesn’t miss a beat even if they go 8 or 9 deep on the bench.

The Bulls are at, or near the top, of the MAC in field goal percentage defense, three point FG percentage defense, and rebounding.


Scouting the Chippewas

This is a loaded team that can score from anywhere. Just how loaded? 5 of the top 27 in scoring in the MAC are Chippewas. Make no mistake, this isn’t just an offensive juggernaut. Even though they are near the bottom in the MAC in scoring defense, they are only 5 points per game from the top spot. To put that in perspective, they are nearly 7 points better on offense than the 4th place team in scoring offense. They are also a solid rebounding team.


Players to Watch

All of them. This game is loaded with talent, but here are 4.

Tinara Moore, CMU: The senior is averaging 17.8 points.

MIcaela Kelly, CMU: While only averaging 11 points a game, being able to break through as a freshman on this loaded team speaks volumes.

Cassie Oursler, Buffalo: The center is averaging 13.6 points and 6 rebounds per game.

Cierra Dillard, Buffalo: The UMass transfer is a big reason for the Bulls impressive record this season.


Keys to the Contest

  • Buffalo must be competitive on the glass. CMU is number 1 in rebounding margin, thanks in large part to the efforts of Reyna Frost. The junior is averaging 12.3 per contest, good enough for 8th in the nation.
  • CMU must not let up. The Chippewas would likely be ranked had they not had a bad quarter against Purdue in a game that they looked in control of. Buffalo is a scrappy team that will not go quietly into the night, even if down by double digits.
  • Turnovers. Because what big game isn’t decided on turnovers. Central Michigan and Buffalo are 2 and 3 in the conference in assist to turnover margin, respectively. Buffalo is number 1 in steals in the conference.

Prediction

A great game. This match-up has all the makings of an epic battle between contrasting styles. Both teams are extremely deep and talented, so it goes far beyond the high scoring offense vs. the scrappy defense. Central Michigan can play defense and especially rebound, while Buffalo has a ton of options on offense.

I am going to predict CMU wins 76-74, but only because of the home floor advantage.