Two weeks ago the Bowling Green Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak to their arch rival when they defeated the Toledo Rockets in double overtime. They hadn’t beaten Toledo since 2012, five years ago. This Saturday the Falcons get the chance to break another long losing streak at home when they face the visiting Buffalo Bulls. The Falcons have lost five straight games to Buffalo and last beat them over three years ago in 2014.
Bowling Green is playing its best basketball of the season and have won three straight games, thanks to another thrilling overtime win last Tuesday night at Kent State, 84-83. The Falcons led throughout most of that game, then had to make several big plays to retake the lead at the end of regulation and in overtime to come away with the win.
The two-time defending Mid-American Conference champion Bulls are also a hot team right now. Buffalo has also won three straight games, doing it against the three teams currently tied for the lead in the MAC west division (Central Michigan, Ball State and Northern Illinois), while wining those games by an average of 19 points.
This might be a case of déjà vu, because both of these teams improved at the end of last season and made a run in the MAC Tournament. Of course the Bulls won the whole thing and advanced to the NCAAA Tournament. The Falcons won two games and advanced to the semi-finals before falling to Akron.
Head coach Michael Huger suspended three players (all starters) prior to the Ohio game a few weeks ago for violation of team rules. The Falcons lost that game, but the coach liked the way the rest of the team competed without the trio. The last three games, all wins, he has kept the former starters on the bench and gone with the new starting line-up. This has seemed to energize the team.
The new starting guard duo of freshmen Rodrick Caldwell and Dylan Frye has played well during this stretch. Caldwell had 16 points against Kent State and made several big plays in overtime to help the Falcons escape with the win. Senior guard Zack Denny now comes off the bench and scored 30 points in that overtime win against Toledo.
Senior Blake Hamilton leads a balanced Bulls attack on offense, at 16.8 points per game. He also averages 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assist per game. Sophomores C.J. Massinburg (14.0) and Nick Perkins (13.9) are a nice pair of building blocks for Buffalo. Perkins has flourished since he assumed the sixth-man role eight gamed ago, and now leads the team in rebounding at 7.2 per game. Senior guard Willie Connors is the other Bull averaging in double figures at 12.9.
The Bulls had been a very streaky team before this latest stretch of games. They lost earlier in the year by 32 points at Toledo and by 15 at home to Ball State. Recently, they’ve beaten Ball State in the rematch by 27 points and Northern Illinois by 20. Those games against Ball State had a 42 point deferential in the separate outcomes.
So it will be interesting to see which Bulls team and which Falcons team shows up for this match on Saturday. If they both bring their “A” game, this could be a very entertaining contest.
When: Saturday, February 11, 12 p.m.
Listen: WFRO (Eagle 99) Fremont, Ohio