Last season, both the Buffalo Bulls and Central Michigan Chippewas reached the sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. I am sure most of you know that, but I still enjoy typing that out. Much like last season, the Chippewas dropped an early non-conference game but are now rolling. Buffalo is struggling a little, though they are still 7-2 and ranked 69th in the RPI rating. Their prospects for an at-large NCAA bid can change drastically when they play host to 8th ranked Stanford on Friday. Central Michigan can all but guarantee themselves an NCAA tournament bid with a win against third ranked Louisville on Thursday.
The Chippewas are still an offensive scoring machine, averaging 80 points per game, while only giving up 62. They are led by Presley Hudson, a do everything point guard that is averaging 23.3 points per game. However, going against the athletic Cardinals, the Chippewas will need a big game from both Reyna Frost and Micaela Kelly. Frost is a rebounding machine that will need to gobble up as many rebounds and loose balls as she can. Kelly has the speed to run with the Cardinals, and must punish them when they press. The Cardinals can score in bunches when their defense is wreaking havoc. To pull off this upset, nearly everyone will have to be playing at 100%, including the crowd. However, even a good show will help the Chippewas.
Buffalo has a much more winnable game. After the top 5 or so teams, there is a drop off. However, Stanford is trying to move into that top tier, and might have with a pair of top 10 wins in their last 2 games. Knocking off two talented teams and then traveling to Buffalo to knock off the Bulls is a tall task to ask for any team, however. Of course the Bulls must do their part. They will need to take good shots, and knock them down, if they are going to pull the stunner.
Ohio is still undefeated and plays Richmond. A win here would also be good for the conference, as the Bobcats are the only unbeaten team left in the MAC. Toledo, who is right behind CMU in RPI, also has a beatable team on their schedule. Toledo could climb into the at-large conversation with a winning streak that puts them in the top 30 or so in RPI rankings, given the MAC’s success last NCAA tournament.
As the non-conference schedule winds down, the MAC has the ability to put themselves in solid position come NCAA selection time.