The Buffalo Bulls have been one of the most impressive mid-majors in the country. Buffalo has already defeated a number of very good teams this year, and it looks like the Bulls would earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament if they didn’t get the MAC’s automatic bid barring a complete collapse. Of course, they are looking to win the conference and improve their potential seed come March, so they are out to top the best team in the MAC West, the Toledo Rockets.
There are no injuries to report for either team ahead of this game.
Buffalo is typically favored by a lot in conference play, but the oddsmakers believe that Toledo has a good chance to knock off the ranked Bulls. The Bulls are a three-point favorite tonight, and that line includes a half-point move from 2.5 to 3 points. The total is a sky-high 158 points.
What’s at Stake?
Toledo has little chance of earning an at-large bid given its schedule, but the Rockets have been pretty good this year. They are currently 20-4, and 8-3 in conference play, and they are one of two teams that could nip Buffalo for the regular season MAC title.
The Rockets have won five straight and eight of their last nine coming into tonight’s game, despite losing their first two conference games.
Buffalo has stumbled a bit in recent weeks. The Bulls started strong with a road win against West Virginia, and a neutral site win over San Francisco coupled with a road win against Syracuse gave them an impressive non-conference resume. They won their first five MAC games by at least nine points, but they have now lost two of their last six. Both losses were by narrow margins at least.
We haven’t seen Toledo in action since last weekend. The Rockets have had this whole week off in order to get ready for tonight’s game, and that should give them a boost here. Meanwhile, Buffalo went on the road to play Akron on Tuesday, and this is the Bulls’ fifth road game in seven games.
The Bulls blasted Toledo in the first meeting between these two teams in early January. Buffalo went off from deep, going 15-30 from beyond the arc, and they ended up beating the Rockets by 30 points.
Few teams like to run as much as the Bulls. Buffalo has the ninth-fastest tempo in the country according to Ken Pomeroy, and that leads to some very high scoring games.
Senior guard CJ Massinburg is the leading scorer on Buffalo, and he has really grown into his own in his four years on campus. He has improved his shooting percentage and his three-point percentage in each of the last three seasons, and he is remarkably efficient considering how often he touches the ball. He is draining nearly 43 percent of his triples and close to half of his field goals this year, and he contributes in other phases of the game too. He is one of the team’s top rebounders and that helps Buffalo push.
Forward Nate Navigato has been a deadly three-point shooter for Toledo this season. Navigato is hitting 46.4 percent of his triples, and he will make you pay if you leave him open. He could have plenty of good looks considering how often Buffalo tries to run, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a good game.
The player of center Luke Knapke will be important for Toledo too. He’s a big man that can hit the three pretty effectively (42.4 percent on the year), and that gives the Rockets someone that can stretch an opposing defense. Knapke will be the biggest body on the floor, and if he can use that for extra possessions, that would be huge.
Toledo are going to give Buffalo all they can handle. This is a tricky team with the tools to knock off the Bulls, and they will have the rest advantage too. I think that’s enough for them to get the job done in the end, and I like Toledo on the moneyline.