As most of the world knows, the Buffalo Bulls knocked off the Arizona Wildcats in the first round of last season’s NCAA tournament. A very important group of people really don’t care much about that win now, but could in the future. That group of people are the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. When they might care is if the Buffalo Bulls are sitting there with 25+ wins and a loss in the MAC tournament. They might also care, though significantly less, if the Bulls win the MAC tournament and another MAC squad has a high win total. I do believe with a great Bulls season and tournament invitation, the Bulls will get an easier opponent in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The question is can the Bulls take advantage of that momentum?
Most of the people that follow the MAC are familiar with names like Nick Perkins and CJ Massinburg. The basketball fans are familiar with defensive stalwart Dontay Caruthers. They know JUCO transfer Jeremy Harris, who averaged 15.5 points a game last season for the Bulls. The Basketball junkies know the names of Jeenathan Williams and Ronaldo Segu, two freshman that were highly sought after recruits. All three groups were probably shocked when I selected the Ball State Cardinals at the number 1 in my power rankings.
There are a multitude of factors included in that decision, and they could all be wrong.
Read the Ball State preview if you want to know my reasons for picking the Cardinals.
I suspect most of you reading this want to know why I didn’t pick the Bulls, and I am going to beat you to the punch and trash that argument after I give it.
Aside from Ball State being really good, I overthink things. The Bulls won last season and return a ton of talent. They added MORE talent. Of course they should win again, but winning again is difficult because of complacency. I saw a loaded Akron squad not win it and then come back and not win it again because they never got better as the season went along. That story line happens all the time in sports. This theory has some holes I’ll get to in a moment. The other reason is that literally everyone that writes about basketball and sees the MAC as flyover basketball will pick the Bulls with no real knowledge of the MAC. And there is a good chance they will be right, and this pisses me off. I took a chance with Ball State, and if it doesn’t pay off, no one will care in 2019. If I am right, I am going throw it into the face of every prognosticator that took the lazy prediction.
While anything can happen, here is where my complacency argument falls apart. Nate Oats went out and loaded up on talent, both freshman and transfers. I did see a bit of that from previous Buffalo teams, where they never really got better over the course of a season, but I think Oats learned from that. I expect this team got a taste national success, and they will do better this season. As a bonus motivation, they are the second best basketball team on campus, at least in regards to how they finished the season.
Maybe my number 2 ranking is a motivation. Also included in the reason for that ranking is my dream scenario. The Bulls win a bunch of games, including a big win against a nationally recognized team in the non-conference, then drop the championship game to a well regarded team. Why? Because I believe this is the best opportunity for a two bid MAC in a long time.