The Edge: Buffalo vs. Western Michigan
Previewing the men’s basketball game against the Broncos
One winter break later and the Bulls (16-6, 8-1 MAC) look like the best team in the MAC. Despite their recent win streak coming to an end to Kent State (12-10, 6-3 MAC), it remains their only loss in conference. And now they have a rematch with the Broncos (13-9, 5-4 MAC) this Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena.
The Bulls beat the Broncos on the road 84-74 and a double digit win like that should help give the Bulls confidence heading in. The Bulls have been beating recent opponents by wide margins; so don’t expect a lack of scoring from them. Here is the breakdown of each position.
Center: Western Michigan
Neither team really has a clear advantage in terms of center. For the Bulls, it has been a traded position this year between junior Ikenna Smart and junior forward Montell McRae. Neither have looked outstanding, but McRae has shown an aggressive pursuit at the boards.
The edge is going to the Broncos based on experience. Western Michigan has two returning centers to call on, and senior Drake Lamont tends to have consistently good performances.
It’s going to be hard for any defense to contain the talent the Bulls have at forward. Between junior Nick Perkins and the occasional guest appearance by junior guard Jeremy Harris, the Bulls are an intimidating force in the three and four spot. Harris had 20 points in the loss to Kent State. Perkins has been averaging 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds this season.
The Broncos just don’t have the same depth at the position. The team has no great scorer while the Bulls have almost half a dozen players who have scored 20 or more this season. Sophomore forward Brandon Johnson will be the player that poses the biggest threat to the Bulls at the position.
If the Broncos don’t match up well to Buffalo’s forwards, then they match up terribly at guard. The talent is just so deep for the Bulls in the one and two spot that there may be no other team in the MAC that can go shot for shot with them.
Junior guard CJ Massinburg is a threat to any team shooting from the perimeter and remains one of the Bulls’ more accurate three-point shooters. Sophomore guard Davonta Jordan has occasional goldeneye shooting but has more recently grown into a more consistent passer. Added with the threat of Harris possibly playing in the spot and the Bulls having multiple combinations they can challenge teams at the position.
The Broncos do have an outstanding guard of their own in senior Thomas Wilder. Wilder has been averaging 19 points and scored 16 points the last time the teams played. He is still a dangerous player who can score 20 on the Bulls if they are not careful.
Despite the Buffalo edge, Western Michigan comes in a well-staffed team. Head coach Steve Hawkins is in his 15th season with the team and led them to a MAC championship on two occasions. Yet based on current performance, the Bulls are the team to pick.
Both teams were picked by MAC coaches at the start of the season to win their divisions. Since then, the Bulls have been the team to live up to expectations. Head coach Nate Oats also led the Bulls to a MAC championship two seasons ago. Oats deserves credit for how this team was built and deserves even more credit for making the team highly effective early in the season.
Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org